Sometimes someone does something so incredibly dumb that you wonder: don’t they have any SENSE??
It’s something that goes beyond being PC. Something that even a can of ravioli sitting on a shelf in Von’s supermarket in San Diego would look at and say: “How could someone be so dense? Doesn’t he have any sense?”
The AP reports that the Mayor of the small California city of Los Alamitos did just that — and has shown some sense: He says he’ll quit after a furor and media stories about his sending an email showing a White House watermelon patch (email run by the Orange County Register is shown to the right):
The mayor of a small Southern California city says he will resign after being criticized for sharing an e-mail picture depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title “No Easter egg hunt this year.”
Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose issued a statement Thursday saying he is sorry and will step down as mayor at the City Council meeting on March 2.
Grose came under fire for sending the picture to what he called “a small group of friends.” One of the recipients, a local businesswoman and city volunteer, publicly scolded the mayor for his actions.
Note that this is the second high-profile instance of someone sending what he thought was a really funny email about the fact that the President of the United States just happens to be black to friends and short-circuiting not just their own political careers, but something more important — the image others have of them. Remember the case of the guy who wanted to chair the RNC sending this email with what he insisted he thought was a hilarious song titled “Barack the Magic Negro?”
In this case, however, unlike in the case of the “Magic Negro” RNC debacle, Los Alamitos’ mayor is not trying to defend it and says he didn’t understand what the watermelon symbolized. He now says he understands that the email was in bad taste and would impact his ability to lead his city as mayor. And the AP also reports this:
Local businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, who is black, said Tuesday she received the e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose’s personal account on Sunday and wants a public apology.
“I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes,” Price told The Associated Press. “I honestly don’t even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin’-mayor — come on.”
The Orange County Register first reported the e-mail on its Web site Tuesday night.
Grose confirmed to the AP that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn’t mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.
He said he and Price are friends and serve together on a community youth board.
“Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn’t see this in the same light that she did,” Grose told the AP. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t sent to offend her personally — or anyone — from the standpoint of the African-American race.”
And so we’ll leave it at that. We’ll let others debate whether Grose could have not known about the stereotype that has been around for so many years (you can see it in some of the wonderful old Little Rascals Hal Roach comedies and other films of the 30s). But if that wasn’t the idea, why would that email have been funny to begin with to him or others?
We’ll pass on that debate. But the bottom line lessons (1) what you send in an email that is racially offensive can come back to haunt you (2) you better know you’re really preaching to the choir before you out a racially offensive email (3) there ARE politicians and people who will see that they erred and put their actions where their apologies are –unlike some politicians that have to be dragged from office after refusing to resign, digging their nails deep into their Governor’s chairs…or Senate seats.
For more weblog reaction go here.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.