Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life — but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to introduce our weekly racism surveillance machine. If you already get our newsletter, Minority Report, you’ve likely seen this — but now the rest of the internet can get a taste.
🗑Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the totally accidental Nazi salute
Ah, baseball. The perfect sport for folks who think, “You know, hockey’s not as White as it used to be.” We kid; some of our favorite people who enjoy spending four hours not moving their heads love baseball! And the Oakland A’s fans among them may have seen bench coach Ryan Christenson celebrate a win last week with what looked a lot like a sieg heil gesture — not just once, but twice. The A’s gave a sadly familiar boilerplate statement; Christenson also immediately apologized for what he claimed was a misinterpreted Covid-era elbow bump. And in a bizarre twist, it looks like he was actually telling the truth. Okay, so not a Nazi sympathizer. Just someone who hasn’t ever thought about the fact that what he’s doing is functionally the same thing. We hope he’s better at coaching than he is at… thinking. (Complex)
🗑2020’s hottest marketing trend: naming your products racist slurs?
When you’re trying to carve out space in the overcrowded apparel world, sometimes you need to go beyond boring old considerations like “quality materials” or “attractive design.” Sometimes you really need to think outside the box — especially when the box is labelled Having the Barest Lick of Sense. That’s exactly what not one but two companies have seemingly done recently. First was the Paris-based H&M-owned clothing shop & Other Stories (yes, the ampersand is part of it, just go with it), who internally dubbed one of its ski caps the “N **** Lab Beanie.” Why? Who knows! Then there were Floren and Rinco, two of those rebranded-Chinese-goods sellers that you see all over Amazon and Overstock; they took a similar tack in describing the color of a men’s shoe on Amazon, but abandoned all plausible deniability by going full hard-R. Admittedly, it’s not the first time China has pulled some dubious marketing tactics — see the history of “Darkie” toothpaste if you doubt that — but with all these N-bombs dropping, we’re worried there won’t be any left for racist local officials! (CNN)
🗑Whew, at least one racist local official was saving for a rainy day
Okay, crisis averted, people. Rinco and Floren clearly left a few choice slurs on the table. Last week, in a particularly melanin-deprived corner of northern Michigan, “county road commissioner” Tom Eckerle was asked in a public meeting why he wasn’t wearing a mask. The answer, as you may have already guessed, wasn’t exactly about masks at all. “Well, this whole thing is because of them n *****s in Detroit,” he started. “Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us.” You’d think that’d be batshit enough for the whole story, but no! A couple of days later, he somehow outdid even himself, telling a local radio interviewer that “I don’t regret calling it a n****r. A n ****r is a n ****r is a n****r. That’s not a person whatsoever.” Not really the Gertrude Stein homage anyone was expecting. Eckerle has since stepped down, most likely to work on his memoir, I’m a Sad Old Man and the World Scares Me. (Washington Post)