Growing up black and in America, due to history and such, you’re always out on racist watch. Growing up it washed over me because I was taught to let peoples ignorance go. In my childhood I heard ‘You speak sooo well’ and ‘My, you’re well-educated’ by people not of my race, so much that to not let it get to me I simply took it as compliments. I grew up in the suburbs and went to the best schools my folks could afford, how else would I have been?
I’m simply not the sort of person that would label something as racist easily. It simply isn’t in my construct and yet, last night I was shown something that is making me think it isn’t quite right. It’s pushing in the ‘this is racist button’ just a little.
RastaMouse. A new children’s show on BBC’s CBeebie’s lineup which according to Wikipedia ‘features crime-fighting special agents Rastamouse, Scratchy and Zoomer, who solve mysteries and have adventures.’ My first instinct was to applaud this. After all, when I was growing up there wasn’t a cartoon for children so decidedly focused on the race and culture of a minority. Nowhere.
But then I thought – but why are they mice? Some how attaching a race of people that, I’ve been told since being here, aren’t so much welcomed in this great country as rodents – seems wrong. Then there’s the mouses search for cheese. Oh, all they want is to find ‘da cheze man’. There’s apparently two kinds ‘cheese – cheeze’ and ‘blue cheese’ which is the good stuff. Hmm, that sounds like they’re talking about something else…
Maybe I’m reading too much into it. If so, I’m not alone. Loads of people have labeled this show racist. A series of complaints have been heralded at the BBC but the show is still on. It’s on and doing incredibly well. I mean, one of the two writers (of the books) is actually Jamaican, so it can’t be racist! Did they have to build the show so highly on stereotypes. Though if that is the lifestyle of one of the writers then maybe he’s unable to see it as such. Who knows…I’ve only watched three episodes but have yet to come across the mouse who’s dialog isn’t so slang intensive. (But I know that my sister-in-law, who is Jamaican, would never let my nephews watch this based on the dialect alone. Hmm, may have to bring some dvds to them and see what happens.)
So, I’m going to do what I did when I was younger and see this as a good thing. After all, it is the first (and I think only) show showing a representation of black culture. Meaning that there are kids who resonate the familiarity of how the people in their families speak to a show that airs on TV. That’s something new and should be applauded! And may even prompt the states to create a show of a minority group too. Then that would be very cool! I mean, loads of people actually liked that Ratatouille movie. Maybe unlike me, people think mice are cute?!?
But if I see a show where another minority group is portrayed as cartoon roaches. I’ll be the first person at the protest!!