Friday, February 22, 2008

Hilla-Bama Ding-dong

Recently CNN correspondent Randi Kaye asked African American women in a beauty salon if they were voting for Clinton or Obama. In other words, are you siding with your race or gender? Ouch. Talk about a classless question. It was, however, invigorating to see many intelligent responses, such as 'keep it real - vote for the best candidate,' and numerous attempts to bring the subject back where it should be - to the issues. (I kept hoping someone would give the correspondent the stink-eye and reel off a list of eloquent reasons why they were voting for McCain, but no such luck.) The media’s assumption of simplistic bias, not the people’s voice, quickly became the focal point.

Now we see comments that Clinton is running into problems with Latino voters. They aren’t voting for her en masse as they supposedly were before. This prompts the vision of a large crowd stirring about, murmuring disgruntled grumblings, whispered protestations, and low growls. I'm not Hispanic, but just being lumped together like that would make me growl. I, for one, don’t lump well. I have a tendency to smash stereotypes whenever possible, just for entertainment's sake. It's safer than skeet shooting, and slightly cheaper.

But we all get lumped, don't we? Assumption of voting trends along racial and gender lines seems to be a foregone conclusion. People are lumped, stirred, and scrambled into convenient political groups. I can hear you lumping me right now.

Yes, we do our own lumping. We’re naturally visual. To get by, we simplify and classify. I admit to being thrilled to see a woman as well as an African American in the race. So lump me in with the ‘change is exciting and interesting’ group. Just don’t put me in the ‘must-be-voting-for-Hillary-because-she’s-a-feminista’ group. Unless you have already. Then I’m putting you in the ‘knucklehead-ruining-my-life’ group.

Maybe that’s what the growling is all about. As the CNN correspondent found out, assume that someone is voting their gender or race and they may get a tad ornery with you. Life is shades of grey, yet we continually strive to boil it down to black and white. Like a photo in newsprint, the simpler we make it, the less we see. We need hours to do the topic justice, yet it’s given only a snippet of face time.

Can we drive the media? Can we steer the pundits? Can we step out of our own stereotypes and choose wisely? Seems like a huge ship to turn this late in the voyage. The best way to avoid 'issues' with large chunks of aggregated voters is to not aggregate them in the first place. So who's doing the lumping- the candidates or the media? It appears to be a little of both. And look at that - I just lumped the candidates AND the media. Shame on me.

Just say 'no' to lumping!

CNN transcript - Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees - aired 1/25/2008

"Hillary running into problems with Latino voters" - Ruben Navarrette, Jr for the SD Union Tribune on the VC Star Opinion page 2/21/2008.


ScottMGS said...

Well and rightly said, Annie.

Doc Rick said...

Excellent piece Annie, as always! Trying to get the media to act responsibly at this point would require an act of God.