Not Racist, Just Not Very Funny

Some folks are up in arms about a picture of the Whitehouse with watermelons growing in the yard and the caption “No Easter egg hunt this year”.

Being familiar with the mechanics of humor, I know you need two things for something to be funny: truth and exaggeration. But as Frank once pointed out, if you don’t have truth, a popularly accepted stereotype – true or not – will generally work just as well.

Ok, so there’s a stereotype that black people like watermelon, and since the President is black, he’d plant watermelons on the White House lawn. Ha ha ha.

Oddly enough, the California mayor who sent this to a black business woman said that he was unaware of this stereotype, so I’m not sure why he thought this was even a tiny bit funny.

The big problem, though, is that the stereotype this mocks isn’t a character flaw. Lots of people like watermelon. *I* like watermelon. Plus the fact that blackness is such a superficial aspect of Obama. It’s like mocking his ridiculous, sticky-out chimp-ears. It’s too easy of a target. It’s not even remotely clever.

However, the picture itself has a delightful visual incongruity about it, watermelons have other characteristics besides being stereotypically liked by blacks, and Obama has characteristics other than skin color. So let’s try a different caption:

Obama’s Victory Garden.

Still got the racial stereotype, but at least it drags in a political angle by referencing the obsessive comparisons of Obama to FDR.

Green on the outside, Red on the inside.

Obama is a “watermelon” – using his environmentalism to cover his communism. No racial stereotypes involved at all. Purely political.

Thanks to America’s failed public school system, the White House was forced to lower the standards for the Easter Egg Hunt.

Here it’s just carping on public policy, and those are just giant eggs lined up in rows. Only Al Sharpton would imply racism now!

So don’t be mad at Grose for being a racist, be mad at him for forwarding a sad, weak-ass joke that he didn’t even get.

Enough with the lecture, let’s just have fun with it.


* OBAMA’S GROWING POD PEOPLE!

* From the book “101 Jokes That Colorblind People Won’t Get”

* Obama’s response to Barney Frank’s complaint that his administration “didn’t have enough fruits”.

* White House receives Alternative Energy grant for “harnessing the power of the sun”.

* “Alien: Resurrection” Director’s Cut DVD includes this shocking alternate ending.

* Because fried chicken doesn’t have seeds. [Yeah, I know, but it’s still better than the original]

* Meanwhile, behind the White House, the Incredible Hulk’s litter box training showed great promise.

* Yet another protest demanding increased taxes and regulation to stop global warming.

* Obama vows to never again buy ‘marijuana’ seeds off the internet.

* The real reason Obama won’t sign a bill to stop illegal immigration.


Caption along in the comments if you’d like.

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42 Comments

  1. Oddly enough, the California mayor who sent this to a black business woman said that he was unaware of this stereotype

    Does the Mayor telecommute from Antactica or what?

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  2. What liberals imagine conservatives imagine the White House lawn looks like. The fact that a liberal probably came up with the idea first never figures in to the equation.

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  3. Despite costing the Department of Climate Change Attenuation 2 trillion dollars (one-fifth of its annual budget) to develop, a single “Obama’s Pride” variety watermelon produces more greenhouse gas than an entire herd of cattle.

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  4. * Little did Obama know that the “watermelons” he had authorized shadowy advisor Rarl Kove to grow were actually intended to carry Reagan’s crack ‘n’ aids concoction for distribution in black neighborhoods.

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  5. Okay… that picture is funny. (a tad bit “racist” i guess in a way, but still really funny) i dont know, if anyone says this picture was blatantly racist, even though the stereotype is what makes it so funny, they would simply just be whining. There is a difference between portraying blacks as monkeys—which would be racist because of how negative the allusion is—and portraying blacks as watermelon eaters. There really is no negative connotation that goes with watermelon eating and I don’t think you’d find very many blacks who would take offence to the watermelon patch at the white house. I showed my very liberal black friend the pic and he thought it was hilarious.

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  6. Liking watermelon and fried chicken is pretty damn common in the South. I only started hearing this particular stereotype after it became a meme on television like Chapelle’s Show…it confused the hell out of me at first.

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  7. McBride – “racism” implies a belief in racial inferiority. Liking watermelons doesn’t make you inferior. This picture merely references a racial stereotype, which doesn’t make you a racist.

    See also Weird Al’s “White & Nerdy”:

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  8. * Because the South seceded from the Union, the Obama’s decided to grow their own and are sharecropping with the House of Representatives.

    * Planted on January 20 and thanks to melon warming, these babies won’t need a singin’ to.

    * Next year’s crop will feature Okra interleaved with the melons to enhance the soil.

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  9. BARRY’S SONG

    I like watermelon,
    I like toast and jam,
    That’s what my baby feeds me,
    I’m her melon man.

    He likes watermelon,
    He likes toast and jam,
    That’s what his baby feeds him,
    He’s her melon man.

    I got home one morning,
    Much to my surprise,
    She was eating cantelope,
    With some other guy.

    No more watermelon,
    No more toast and jam,
    I found my baby eating,
    Cantelope with another man.

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  10. Raised in Hawaii by white grandparents–Harvard educated–wealthy lawyer, THE OBAMA is almost as black as the Winter brothers.

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  11. Can I say I think that picture is funny? Not ROTFL or anything but it make me chuckle.

    One reason is of course the stereotype but more so is the fact I know it will drive liberals crazy. I tend to like anything that drives liberals crazy. That fact turns off the switch in me that says you shouldn’t laugh at that; that is wrong.

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  12. Ditto to #11 & #13 — I thought the watermelons on the WH lawn (instead of Easter eggs) was funny too. So was Obama (or any LibDem really) being, like a watermelon, “green on the outside, red on the inside.”

    What’s even funnier is the mental image I get of all them younguns in their Sunday best trying to hoist them melons.

    So when do we get to have the seed-spitting contest? I can think of a few targets already.

    Like has already been said so well, it’s not a sin, or degrading to enjoy watermelon or fried chicken. In fact, at work the other day we had a luncheon program for Black African-American History Month. On the menu? Fried chicken and soul food side dishes. And it was delicious.

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  13. Also, my college always serves fried chicken for Martin Luther King Jr day. I’ve always wondered whether I should feel a little guilty for finding that funny.

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  14. Here, lemme fix it for ya.

    Obama’s an asshole. See? Nothing racist in that statement. Use it wisely. Dumb f*cks.

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  15. I liked the “green on the outside, red on the inside” comment, but I cracked up at the Alien reference. It just goes so well with the picture and was completely unexpected.

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  16. Obama would NEVER plant watermelon on the White House lawn. Cotton, that’s what he’d plant, in hopes of making white people pick it for his amusement…then his tru vision for the presidency would be complete.

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  17. Try living in Phoenix Arizona in the summer monthes of June/July/August sometime. Around August we get some decent melon in here. Well take said melon and juice it and drink ice cold. I guarantee you will be calling the Whitehouse offering to sharecrop the lawn and make it look exactly like that picture.

    If that is not enough I have the Hydrogen bomb of why melon is good and you can see it here: Mulher Melancia ( Melon Woman ) of Brazilian Carnaval : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JXkThMQvPQ&feature=related …. ( All the girls that look like this in Brazil are part black.)

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  18. Another note: With the size of the bailout one can not help but contemplate that the Chinese will get wise and stop buying the dollar resulting in it plummeting to peso like conditions and yielding an unprecedented economic calamity. When I saw this picture originally I thought that the joke was “we’re all going to have to do that to eat in about 9 months” …. and the environMENTAL cases will be telling us its so good for us because we’re so green. Obama is an epic fail and I sense that fail is just around the next corner or two.

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  19. FS – Having been to Rio courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club, I concur that Brazilian women are quintessentially gorgeous due to racial cross-pollination.

    But it’s more than just black. There’s also Spanish, Native Indian, white, and Portuguese mixed in. Results – the sort of deep-tan exotic hotness that makes Halle Berry look homely by comparison.

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  20. Harvey:

    According to Merriam-Webster, racism includes “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities.”

    To imply that Obama likes watermelon because he is black is pretty cut-and-dry.

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  21. McBride – Granted, that is a definition, but that belief is merely mistaken, and is not necessarily malicious. When people deride this picture as racist, their tone (if not their actual words) implies that the type of “racism” in question is conscious, hateful, and morally wrong.

    I make a distinction between “racism” and “referencing racial stereotypes”. I don’t believe they’re equivalent.

    Generally, I have no problem with humor based on racial stereotypes as long as the stereotypes have some statistical validity, and the humor demonstrates a modicum of cleverness in its construction.

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  22. I am sorry. I defended the chimp cartoonist and said it was wrong to punish him for not making a “black people = chimps” connection.

    But here, I just don’t see what the hell the joke could possibly be, except the black people = watermelon eaters thing.

    And yes, I never understood why it became a mean thing to say. I don’t like watermelon but i do like fried chicken. i remember reading “invisible man” by ellison and in one scene the guy eats yams with maple syrup on it and is ashamed to because as a black man he was fitting a stereotype. but i am reading it, going “that sounds good.” i literally tried it a few nights later and you know what? it was pretty good. So it is messed up the way that racists have used what would ordinarily be, at most, a minor cultural difference and blew it up into this silliness. But it is where we are.

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  23. Italian-Americans like pizza, pasta and vino.
    German-Americans like sourkraut, sausage and beer.
    Norwegian-Americans like luttafisk, lefsa and aquavit.
    Irish-Americans like potatoes, corned beef and Stout.
    Japanese-Americans like suishi, sukiyaki and saki.
    Appalacian-Americans like cornbread, possum and Jack Daniels.
    English-Americans like crumpets, spotted dick and Old Peculiar.

    Every group, no matter how thin you slice them, will always be able to claim some identifiable stereotype of their very own based on traditional foods or customs.

    If African-Americans like watermelon, fried chicken and malt liquor why is that a problem?

    Embrace your Stereotype! Wrap it in your loving arms
    and pull it’s fangs!

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  24. I programmed BASIC, wore glasses, and played on the chess team.

    Good thing there isn’t a stereotype that fits that.

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