A Few Good Idiots: The Oregon State Blackout and Race

Oregon State’s athletic colors are black and orange.  So, naturally, given the trends in sports of having [insert color here]-outs for specific games, it seems natural that Oregon State have a “blackout,” playing off of the team’s colors and the word itself.

However, Oregon State University initially opted this week to suspend their planned “blackout” events.  And people flipped!  But nowhere was the “outrage” more pronounced than in the dreaded comment section of Yahoo! Sports article about the situation.

I am not one to spend time and sift through comments for articles.  The comment sections can provide for some humorous moments (mostly unintended and not humorous in a good way) and i usually know which articles are going to attract the most train-wrecks.  But, generally i tend to avoid them.

However, knowing what potentially awaited in the comment section of the Yahoo! Sports article, i could not resist taking a peek.  And yes, the Yahooites did indeed flip their collective lid.  As always, the commenters, emboldened by the anonymity of the Internets, felt their balls swell to the size of cherries and fired off one stupid statement after another”

  • would it be less insensitive if they called it an “african-american-out”?
  • you know you relieze black people are black so is everyone else supposed to give up the color black i notice most racistism is by blacks get over it you are black
  • how about the offended monkeys stay the f at home if they oppose it
  • Big (aka politically correct) Brother says we can’t use the word “black” anymore.Hasn,t this Obama thing run its course? Got to get over the slavery thing.
  • Don’t want to anger the cry baby naggers. Send the naggers back to Africa please.

Of course, to be fair to the Yahooites, moronic comments are not limited to the pages of Yahoo! Sports.  For example, some prick named “Greg McLean” posted a comment to an article on The Daily Barometer‘s website stating, “Oh great…here we go again. Gotta love those self important pricks out to be a buzz kill.”

The “buzz kill” is not that Oregon State chose to suspend the “blackout.”  It is that a few “self-important pricks” thought it would be simply hilarious to ridicule an entire group of people and make a mockery of the event.

Quick backdrop.  During the 2007 season, a group of Oregon State students, led by Casey Grogan, suggested that Beaver fans “blackout” Reser Stadium as a sign of intimidation (towards visiting Arizona) and also unity (among the Oregon State fans).  It was following in the trend that was starting to become more common than unique (and was railed against here).  Great idea.

Then, stupidity took over.  Apparently, The Daily Barometer printed a cartoon that some interpreted as “blackface” [i’ve tried in vain to find that cartoon, but to no avail].  Then, some took hold of that cartoon and decided to dress in ways that reflected racist caricatures and wear blackface and afro wigs.

Though, most Oregon State fans probably genuinely took the “blackout” for what it was intended to do — rally fans.  It paid off as the Beavers won their first Pac-10 game of the year.  But, the images of the “blackface” sullied the blackout.  It was hard to ignore what some were attempting to do.

Two waves emerged from that incident.  One wave saw the minstrel-esque expressions of Beaver pride [hmm] as offensive.  The other wave lashed out at those offended, feeling they were blowing it all out of proportion and that the offended should not be so thin-skinned.

Flash-forward to this season.  When the idea to have a “blackout” this season emerged, there was enough apprehension to step back from it.  This, of course, led to the outcry.

However, the outcries miss the point.  Reading the Yahoo! comments, most did not read why some people were offended by the blackfaced people.  They likely just read the headline and thought, “Oh, them blacks don’t like it coz it uses the word ‘black’.”

However, what these idiots are missing is that the outrage is not over the use of “blackout.”  If that were the case, such events at Florida State, Texas Tech, and BYU (ironically against Oregon State) would bring forth more controversy.  The name itself is not controversial.  It is why white people are not up in arms over “whiteouts” at Penn State.

The controversy stems from the fact that a few morons ruined it for everyone.  They made a mockery of a call for camaraderie, acting as though dressing to denigrate an entire group of people is funny.  It gave pause to the university because they were not sure if people could act “civilized.”  Does the university move forward with the blackout and hope that the morons have finally graduated [just a shade under a decade] or dropped out?  Or, is there something inherent in Oregon State culture, something that most would associate with the South?

The Oregon State administration opted to suspend the event.  Was it the right thing to do?  Maybe not [see below].  Was it the wrong thing to do?  Not at all.  Are people right to get upset that others are offended by what they see as a stereotype of their “race”?  Absolutely not.

Yes, it is their “right,” but they are attempting to try to say that it is okay to use caricatures that harken back to an era where those people represented through blackface were being made to appear stupid and oafish (and, in some cases, less than human).  Ironically, many of these same people would become offended if someone made fun of Christianity or attempted to slight Jesus Christ.  Many white Southerners become offended when they are stereotyped as slow, ignorant racists.  Why can black people not express their feelings of offense over something that historically has misrepresented and miscast their culture?

One of the more interesting comments from the Yahoo! article was that “People need to grow up and quit feeling entitled to change traditions or events because of the color of their skin and quit ruining everything for everyone else.”  Grow up?  Maybe people should “grow up” and quit thinking that it is okay to shit on an entire group of people.  THESE are the people that are ruining it for everyone else!!!!!  It is not “entitlement” but a request not to be treated like shit!

Those that support the “blackfacing” would argue that those people had the “right” to express themselves.  But why can blacks not have the “right” to express themselves!?  What makes one group’s “right” more important than another groups “right”?

Yet, despite the worries of the potential repeat of the 2007 debacle, suspending the event was actually the worse possible solution.  The reason is that it allows the few idiots to dictate policy, and in turn shifted the anger away from the idiots to those that spoke up and took a stand because they were offended.  As John Canzano notes in his article on The Oregonian website, the Oregon State administration ran when they had a chance to make a statement and show how the university would not allow the idiots to run the show.

Fortunately, Oregon State reversed their decision and have decided to have the “blackout” anyway.  As Oregon State president Ed Ray noted, “I’ve got to believe in the people in my community. If we don’t test it now, then when?”  We need to hope that people are smarter and better than what those few demonstrated in October of 2007.

People want to say that slavery ended long ago and that blacks should move beyond race — not everything is “racist.”  But when are whites also going to move on from “race” and realize that promoting caricatures is not funny, not ingenious, and NOT their “right”?  Ironically, these people that are arguing that blacks should not be so easily offended are actually demonstrating that they are also easily offended; they are easily offended when someone calls them out on their stupidity.

They want to say that it is 2012 and we should move beyond race.  Yes, it is 2012…and we should be past thinking that such caricatures are acceptable!  If blacks should have to “get past race,” then so should whites.  By mocking a group of people based on the color of their skin AND NOT SEEING ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT, these idiots and their “supporters” demonstrate that even whites have not moved beyond race.

President Ray stated that the Oregon State community can “make a powerful statement about who we are and what we stand for with this simple act” of showing unity in the blackout, and that those few idiots do not represent the university or the 21st century.

Hopefully, we see that powerful statement on 20 October and 17 November.  Unfortunately, Yahoo! commenters and others have already made a “powerful statement” that we have not moved beyond “race” and willful ignorance still exists.

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