When Sarah Palin burst onto the scene with her country patois and off-beat monikers it was clear that beyond being animated, she was both a leader and role model to one of the most underrepresented groups of people–stupid white folks. Juxtaposed to Michelle Obama with her premium Ivy-League education, Sarah Palin was a mom who’d worked her way from a bachelor’s degree (earned by combining credits from four community colleges) to Governor. Instead of being what Paul Mooney would call “a waste of white skin” she became a symbol of mediocrity for many white people failing to meet the supposed standards of their race. A sort of anti-model-majority.
Of course we have always seen the redneck comedian, the frat boy, and the loopy male politician, but never before has there been a time where so many stupid white people have commanded such an audience. Could it be backlash for the rise of uppity, oops i mean intelligent well-mannered black folks? Are white folks simply growing tired of being the moral guideposts? One could say so. Beyond the early days of Real World and the rise of Sarah Palin we now have the Jersey Shore group, Desperate Housewives, and reality tv shows about white women with litters of children. Hidden before, behind black poverty, gangsta rap, and welfare queen ideology was one of the most understudied and mislabeled groups on earth–stupid white folks. Before now, anytime dumb white people came up, it had nothing to do with race and everything to do with class. The implication, white people, “real” white people can’t possibly be stupid or uncouth.
When I was a young kid, I loved Dr. Seuss books and one of my favorite reads was “The Sneetches”, a story about the uppity/popular crew (Star-Belly Sneetches) in town versus the lowly (Plain Belly Sneetches). The distinction, the Star Belly Sneetches had stars on their bellies along with good posture. The Plain Belly Sneetches clearly had self-esteem issues. To fit in, the minority, got the animated equivalent of plastic surgery to add stars to their bellies. They wanted to fit in. But the popular crew wasn’t having that, so they took their stars off to keep things clear–you are not one of us. Brilliant! At least until the part where the machine breaks and everyone becomes friends because they don’t know who is who. This is where Dr. Seuss trips up a bit. It is an old-school look at discrimination and if time tells us anything, when one machine breaks another is there to take its place. Enter the intelligent-by-birth-white-machine and let the brotha build his own model where Ivy-League degrees aren’t just available to poverty-striken blacks reaching for a piece of the pie, but by folks who actually know something and can string together a few sentences. The machine breaks. New machine–stupid white folks–emerges. Anything you can do, I can do better! Take that coloreds!
It only seems appropriate in the age of Obama, the articulate-despite-black-era, that we would have an uptick in celebrated stupid white folks and a sustained attack on the bourgeois as the ranks of sophistication become more available to minorities. If Dr. Seuss had one thing right, there is an innate push to be different from “the other” but never did I think the day would come I would have full access to everything from a white lady with eight kids to white people who can’t read. Fuck an earthquake a day, if there is anything warning the end of the world is near–THIS IS IT!