I first saw the Sparkling Wiggles video over at Racialicious, and I’ve been thinking about it all week. In case you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a big hit on CollegeHumor.com, and features an adorable, little blonde white girl being spoon fed lines by her parents. They tell to say these things: “No sparkling wiggles here!” “Get a job, sparkling wiggles!” And when the mother prompts her to say these things, she puts her cell phone up to the kid’s face, to capture the phrase. They titled the video, “What? She said sparkling wiggles. What did you think she said?â€
** Edited 13: 45 a.m. Monday June 11: VIDEO REMOVED BY REQUEST OF YOU TUBE POSTER. Click HERE to see it on CollegeHumor.com.
Well, racist parents, we know what you were trying to encourage her to say. And we obviously get where YOU’RE coming from, and that’s all that matters.It’s one thing to grow up and become a racist, and quite another to have your parents teach hate to you from a young age. That’s the way of the KKK, and it explains why the young teenage band Prussian Blue exists. Because parents are teaching their little ones how to hate and discriminate from an early age.
The “racist” tag on College Humor also turned up a clip of Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarves, a notorious 1943 Merrie Melody cartoon I’ve always wanted to see. (I have a fascination with racist cartoons and the whitewashing of that part of history.) I’m pretty sure there were clips of “Coal Black” included in the end montage of Bamboozled, it’s among the Censored Eleven, and is probably the most infamous of the racist cartoons of that era. (It might surprise you to learn that Dorothy Dandridge’s mother and sister played the voices in this cartoon). It’s fascinating to me that once upon a time audiences — parents with their children — probably laughed uproariously at this depiction of black people, complete with oversize lips, gold-teethed “Prince Chawmings,” and shocking references to killing the Japanese. Now it probably won’t even make you crack a smile. I almost didn’t make it all the way through the video, the feelings it stirred up inside me were so strong — despite the cool soundtrack and the fact that this cartoon was reportedly intended as a loving homage to the then-thriving jazz scene.
Perhaps someday, people will feel like that about the “Sparkling Wiggles” video, too — perhaps someday it won’t make people laugh and share it with their friends as a humorous clip. Right now, the response seems to be sharply divided, and judging from some of the responses on YouTube, many people are skewing to the “black people are oversensitive hypocrites” side of the fence. And HOLD UP — yes, this is a disgusting blackface response to the video.
It’s crazy to me that so many people summarize this by saying, “It’s just a joke, people lighten up.” Kids mispronouncing words is often funny, but the whole crux of this matter is the parents. They fed her lines that reveal their line of thinking, filmed the whole thing, and shared it with the world. The comments on sites like Ebaums World to this video reveal the underpinnings of that message: “I hope my kid is exactly like her,” “I can’t wait to have a little sparkling wiggles hater myself someday,” and it just gets worse and worse from there.
I think the Avenue Q song is right — Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist. Myself included, apparently. I just did the Project Implicit test, which is a Harvard run study that “blends basic research and educational outreach in a virtual laboratory at which visitors can examine their own hidden biases.” It’s a way to kind of test how racist you are, and in what way exactly. I find the concept fascinating.
After doing the Skin Tone demonstration, I got this response: “Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for Dark Skin compared to Light Skin.”
That data makes me part of 4% of people who took the study. Keep in mind, 27% feel the opposite way, and have a strong automatic preference for light skin compared to dark skin, another 27% had a moderate automatic preference for light over dark skin, and 10% had a slight automatic preference. So I’m in the decided minority, here. That doesn’t displease me, but still – I’m not sure what to think about that, especially in light of the other statistics.
I know when I have kids, I’d never foster the kind of thoughts that the Sparkling Wiggles parents have. I’m going to raise my children to celebrate their heritage and be proud of who they are, but I also plan to encourage them to live that Sesame Street dream that I did, by having friends of many different ethnicities. I’d like to keep my children’s minds wide open for as long as possible, rather than foster prejudice when they’re not even old enough to clearly state — or have — an opinion of their own. What do you think about this issue, bellas and fellas?