Another celebrity is now in hot water for making blatantly offensive and repugnant remarks about marginalized groups of people. This time, it’s Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, who was quoted by GQ Magazine as saying some really, REALLY homophobic, transphobic and Bible-thumbing propaganda.
Lost in Robertson’s remarks are his comments about black folks before the Civil Rights Movement took the South by storm:
Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
When I initially heard Robertson’s remarks, I mostly just shook my head. I wasn’t outraged, surprised or shocked. I’m also not surprised there hasn’t been any emphasis on what Robertson said about black southerners like myself. Maybe because it’s common knowledge that a lot of white southerners are still perplexed as to why the Civil Rights Movement had to happen? Maybe it’s because his extreme homophobic transphobic views would be viewed as more…inflammatory? Maybe it’s because a lot of people — who may be more tolerant of white, cis gays and lesbians — would harbor similar sentiments about black folks post “entitlement”and post “welfare?”
At any rate, anyone watching the show would see that it’s an overt glorification of whiteness: emphasis on traditional, patriarchal-oriented heterosexual marriage and family (which is why you mostly see Phil’s wife Kay filmed in the kitchen or in the home), emphasis on God and Christianity (hence the religious messages and frequent church scenes) and a focus on anti-northern, anti-urban (aka blackness) message: rural, southern white folks embracing their redneck-ism with sweet tea in tow.
It’s no accident or coincidence this show and the messages it communicates have taken off in the age in which we have Barack Obama serving as the nation’s first black president…
As an aside, as a family living on the Louisiana bayou, one has to marvel at how the show has been conspicuously white washed. Duck Commander is situated in West Monroe, Louisiana, which has a 62 percent white population, 34 percent black and other racial/ethnic minorities making up the rest of the population. Don’t y’all just love how whiteness allows white folks to completely divorce themselves from regularly interacting with people of color on a regular basis?
I’d be lying if I sit here and say this would be an eyeopener for most people. And for some, they are truly shocked and dismayed by the comments — and rightly so. But I’m hard pressed to believe that the show will suffer a drop off in ratings and popularity. A lot of people actually believe what Phil Robertson said about homosexuality and black people. Most people believe that gay men are repulsive for preferring an anus (as if all gay men have anal sex) over a vagina (as if all heterosexual guys prefer vaginal sex; as if all people who identify as women have a vagina). And I feel certain in saying Robertson is clearly referring to women who have so-called “natural” vaginas…
A lot of southerners — and some northerns, I’m sure — actually believe black folks were content and happy during Jim Crow. We were all more than willing to remain in constant subjugation: stepping off the sidewalk while white folks approached; being chastised for looking at white people in the eye; de jure segregation; the endless rapes and sexual assault of black women and girls by white men and boys; black female domestics being forced to rescue and protect Miss Ann and her family while ignoring their own; forced to partake in sharecropping and peonage; the endless cycle of poverty; the faulty, racist separate but equal doctrine practiced in the southern public education system; the lynchings; the mutilations; those domestic terrorists known as the KKK and their sympathizers; lackluster law enforcement agencies that often turned the other cheek when it came to violence towards us; white women regularly and falsely accusing black men and boys of rape; forced to work in slave-like conditions.
The blues was just some horrible fantasy conjured up by northern whites and siddity black folks who wanted to stir trouble in the south. Yep, we were all smiling, dancing Negroes who were more than thrilled to live as 3rd class citizens under white supremacy. Now, we have had our minds and work ethic poisoned by welfare and entitlement brought on by our desires — introduced by black
and white northern outsiders — to obtain freedom, equality, good paying jobs, the chance to prosper, the chance to get a first class education and the chance to live in peace.