Friday, July 01, 2005

"Images like these....."

It seems that Mexico has been going out of its way recently to offend African-North Americans. First, there was the intemperate remark by President Vincent Fox that Mexican immigrants are "doing the work that not even blacks want to do" which created a small firestorm of American criticism and a subsequent apology from Fox.

And now there are some Mexican stamps.....

"Fox’s spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, said the government “emphatically rejects these complaints, which are the products of lack of knowledge or people who want publicity.”He did not name those to whom he referred."

“By no means is Mexico considering the possibility” of withdrawing the stamps, Aguilar said, accusing critics of being “people who want to take advantage of this ... to seek publicity within American society.”

The stamps are apparently based on a long-running Mexican comic, "Memin Pinguin" which has been around since the 1930s or 1940s as we see below:

The stamps bear a striking resemblance to the early 20th century American aesthetic when it came to depicting African Americans.......

So, not only is the Mexican government racist, it would that the Americans have been woefully ignorant of that racism, or at least silent on the point. Until now, that is, for some reason. The White House made this response:

"Scott McClellan said it was “an internal issue for Mexico and the postal authorities that issued the stamp. With that said, I would like to make a couple of points. Racial stereotypes are offensive no matter what their origin. The Mexican government needs to take this into account. Images like these have no place in today’s world.”

I certainly agree with the White House on this one. I have to add that images like the ones below also have no place in today's world, especially when one considers the antecedents of the images.

I find these images far more troubling than the stamps produced by our neighbor to the south which has been the victim of American racism since the early 19th century.