Are "we" just too damn sensitive?

Posted by Leticia, 13 Oct 07

Another story about racism in America

A homecoming display at a High School was suppose to rally school spirit for the night's homecoming game, what it did was upset students and parents and caused the principal to call a town meeting. The display depicted a Viking football player in the claws of a falcon. Parents and students thought that it looked like someone being hanged. Have we become so damn sensitive that every action must be held under a racial microscope? Or are we not sensitive enough to those that still suffer the pains of their forefathers?

Hey, this is Leticia and I must admit that I'm not sure that my heart or head is ready for this article yet. On a personal note I've been really dealing with the realities of the Jena 6 and it was and continues to be such an emotional drain for me. If you've missed the story Google it, because I can't even begin to go there right now. So, I found this story that is somewhat related but may be considered by some a lot less serious...you decide.

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This could have taken place in any town USA. However, it happens to occur in a small town in North Carolina. It was homecoming week and as so many high schools do, there were pep rallies and competitions among the school clubs and organizations to see who had the most "spirit". One group, like many before them, created a dummy football player, dressed it up in the competitions school colors and with the claw of a falcon (the home teams mascot), attached to the mock player, that was shown dangling from the ceiling of the school.

Some students and then parents said that the display looked like a "black person being hanged". There were complaints and then the Principal invited more people to come and view the exhibit to "judge for themselves". Then there were reports that the school was suffering like so much of our country right now, with racial tension. So, the Principal tried to hold a town meeting to address the issues...it was postponed due to the "lack of sufficient facilitators".

Is it just me or do you remember a time during high school when we would have an effigy of the other schools mascot and set it on fire? The whole idea was to massacre, kill, and cream the competition. It was about building team spirit, morale, getting hyped up before the big game. The game where everyone that wore the same colors and sat on the same side were all for the same team? There was no black or white, just (insert your team color here).

In no way am I saying that a noose doesn't represent a terrible act that in our history for so many meant something very painful, hateful and unspeakable. When did "intent" stop being important? When did we stop caring how some things to some people are offensive? What or who determines what side of that thin line the actions perpetrated fall?

Is it self appointed civil rights leaders, angry grudge ridden parents, politicians or worse yet the media? How do we heal a wound that is constantly being re-opened again and again?

Are there others out there that believe that even though a certain word or action may not offend me personally, I respect the fact that it offends you and therefore I will not publicly use it because even though I may not know you, I don't want to hurt you...on purpose? That even though I may have the right, under the constitution, to say what I want, when I want, where I want. I will above all else use discretion when choosing my words because my intent is to educate not humiliate.

Above all else I do understand and realize that I do have a place (that I can create), where I can freely display my thoughts, views and opinions with any words, pictures and samples that I so choose, and where others of like mind and opinion can come and freely express theirs, and if you don't agree or like it, you don't have to bare witness because it is clearly marked and labeled for what it is and it's not on public display. But how do we do that? How do we not offend someone, anyone, and everyone at some point in time? And if we do how do we explain that the intent was to just be us and sometimes it has nothing to do with you?!

32 responses to "Are "we" just too damn sensitive?"

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  1. Posted: 11 May 08

    Y'know, I really dislike any sentence that has the words 'too sensitive' it. A phrase I've heard too many times in my growing up and adult lives. It seems that being sensitive is now a vice instead of a virtue. Someone was giving an opinion(remember OPINION)of what that thing looked like to them, not stating a known fact. To a person who recently had a loved one die by a suicide by hanging or lynching would probably have said something to whomever made the thing, that person could apologize and explain the intent, and I'm kinda sure it would've worked itself out somehow. To me, it looked like an enemy team being taken away by the home team's mascot. I think the claw should've been more obvious(and yeah, I am wearing glasses cocoadream, thanks for your charming advice). Somehow, to be sensitive and actually have the outright nerve to question someone and their actions and ask them to not only think about their perspective, but the perspective of others, seems to be a dying thing. Pardon me if I ask why something is done! This could be a chat about racism, art, or Creation vs. Elegant Design, the bottom line seems to be that if a person is questioned about something, that person is automatically 'too sensitive', hypersensitive or just an idiot. Kara1966, I'm with you. My opinion is based on MY life experiences and observations, and the things I've seen family and friends go through. It differs from anyone else's. I rarely agree or disagree totally with anyone, because I don't live their lives(except when it comes to outright abuse of drugs, children, the elderly, animals, and crime, then I'll fight tooth and nail!). People whose favorite phrase is "Get over it" need to take their own advice before dispensing it to others. I do, however think the media tries to only get the sensational side of a issue, instead of really asking "what's going on for real?" My final thing is this: When I was in college(early 90's), I was hanging out with some friends in the room of a guy who was a member of a national fraternity whose brothers are predomninately Caucasian. I was looking at the photos on his wall when I saw the group photo of his brothers for that year. In the center of the group was the photo of their mascot, a black lawn jockey named "Sambo". Now being the only black chica in the room, I asked him "What's with the jockey and why is his name Sambo?" "Oh", he replied, "It's just a joke". "I'm not laughing", I replied. No one knew about the culture of Black lawn jockeys or jockeys in particular. I was then told I was 'too sensitive', and that stuff like that means nothing anymore. For the record, there was one Asian brother and past Black brothers, and I was informed, "They don't care". I left, wondering if anyone dared to rub the heads of the black frat members for good luck! Was I overly sensitive? I don't think so. Especially seeing as how the ignorance of parts of American history(and willful and blissful at that) is still alive. Yes, America has come a long way, but it seems that there are some parts that have never left. And don't want to.

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  2.   Kara1966 says:
    Posted: 31 Dec 07

    I've always bristled at the phrases "overly sensitive" and "too sensitive." How is one person EVER in a position to judge the level of another person's sensitivity? People have different opinions, different views, and different thresholds of pain. Just because they differ doesn't make one person right and one person wrong. Too all those who believe they should be appointed the arbiters of sensitivity, YOU get over it! Learn a little respect for others and quit being so self-righteous and narrow minded. You don't have to agree, but at least be respectful of the fact that someone may have a view that both differs from yours AND isn't wrong. How about that?

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  3.   satori says:
    Posted: 11 Dec 07

    Wow I just joined this site yesterday. I hadno idea this issue would even come up. After reading some of the comments, I am flabbergasted. Ok I will take some breaths and maybe come back and comment. Excruciatingly thought provoking....

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  4.   Glock says:
    Posted: 25 Nov 07

    Don't take offense because I just am trying to have some dialogue, but "long way to go"? Exactly what does that mean? Because we have some different opinions here on this website does not equate that blacks have a "long way to go". Sorry but I disagree. Not only have blacks come a long way but whites have too. There is racism in this country. In my opinion, it's a new racism, expressed by those who are not the "majority". I have personally experienced, felt, heard and saw actions and comments about whites and about white men with black women by blacks (particularly black men). We don't hear much about this because blacks tend to get a free "pass" when it comes to issues of racism (particularly by the media). But it's there. So as far as "long way to go", it's not by whites.

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  5.   Janet6 says:
    Posted: 24 Nov 07

    Pretty simple...anyone who thinks we don't have a race problem in this society need only read the entries above...we've got a long way to go, I'm afraid. Peace.

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  6.   cocoadream says:
    Posted: 23 Nov 07

    Anyone who tries to turn this high school pep rally into anything racial is definitely just too damned sensitive. Why is it that some always want to play the race card? Just to get negative attention? To promote the stereotype that minorities are ignorant? Any time I see someone pulling the race card I know they have a "losing hand". Just get over it, like you did when you stubbed your toe. That hurt, but you lived, and kept on walking. The real racists anymore are the Sharpton types that make minorities, and especially blacks, look like nothing but sniveling drama queens, too stupid to know that we are the ones inciting the hate. Any time I see that clown I try to distance myself as fast and far as possible. Some of us are honest enough to know that just because someone is white, we shouldn't condemn them for it (isn't that what Sharpton does?) and that they aren't all haters. All it was was a claw, not a noose, if anyone missed that, buy glasses. Stop making up reasons to look stupid.

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  7. Posted: 23 Nov 07

    i go to that school, that was about what our team was going to do to there team, but the press wants to blow it up to MAKE MORE MONEY. that's all, but everyone else says something different about why it is there.

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  8.   cocoadream says:
    Posted: 22 Nov 07

    I am getting so sick of certain types always looking for an ECXUSE to claim racism. Jena was a perfect example. What message are we sending when minorities scream to have a gang of punks, who just may have intended to kill this other boy if it had not been stopped by someone else, set free just because they are black? Are they trying to tell the world that all of us think we should get away with any crime just because of our skin? That is a justifiable reason to be hated, why give it to them. And then this total over reaction to a pep rally display. Sounds as ridiculous as those that are offended by peace signs and nativity sceens. If we don't SHOW tolerance, why should we expect to get any back? Leave the kids alone, get a grip, and try to find your sense of humor. I laughed at the falcon foot.

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  9.   Janet6 says:
    Posted: 18 Nov 07

    I am a white woman; I appreciate having the chance to express my opinion here, but I don't know that I have the right to call the question on this. I believe that if people were offended by the display, then it was offensive, whether or not I think so. I do appreciate the fact that the principal was sensitive and deliberate enough to try to help people move through what had happened. That's about all we can do. As for whether or not people are too sensitive about these things, I think the question is premature, given the fact that bounty hunters who claim to be Christian still get caught showing their covered up bigotry, and sports heroes of one color are treated differently than others when they fall from grace.

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  10.   Glock says:
    Posted: 16 Nov 07

    I as a white man know that the past will never be let go. But what about the past? What past do we remember and what do we "forget". We certainly remember the institution of slavery that existed in America, but what about the institution of slavery that existed in the continent of Africa for centuries before Europeans set foot in Africa? We never hear any mention of this. KKK ralies occured on the nations capital during the past century. Don't see that any more, but what you do see if "The million man march" where clearly racist black men like Louis Farrakhan get a platform in which to speak hatred, hell he even gets it televised on C-Span. Bombings of black churches a few years ago? yeah I remember, I also remember that several of those churches were burned by blacks. How do you explain that? James Byrd? I also remember that tragic death as well. But I also remember reading about a white man who had the same fate in the same town only a week before by a group of three black men. Did you hear about that? How about the young white couple in Kentucky this past year who were carjacked by three black men, taken to the house of a girlfriend of one of the three where they were literally tortured by both being raped, sodimized, gentitals cut off, bleach poured down the girls throught before they were killed? Didn't hear of that one either? As far as the rapes, murders, against your people never being brought to justice, look who is committing the majority of those crimes. It's not whites who are doing it, it's blacks. This is not to minimize the atrocities that have been committed in the past. But lets put it into perspective and look at it from a different point of view.

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  11.   Bettina says:
    Posted: 15 Nov 07

    First of all...any by line that starts off with "Are we to sensitive", is really just a veil to hides ones own racist views...So, often do we hear, we need to let go of the pass..An era of inhuman acts of brutality that only God can right..So, if we are to believe in the mantra "let go of the past we have progressed"...Then there wouldn't be in lynching symbols, kkk rallies, bombings of Black churches... As an African-American female...I need not a leader, African-Americans are not a monolith race of people... So, if we are going to attempt this let go of the past, then leave the past in the past....Who is displaying symbols of lynchings (not so in the past)? KKK rallies, the bombins of black churches a couple of years ago, or the brutal death of James Bryd in Texas, and then question why some are too sensitive about these actions...Perhaps the real resolve lies with the people who commits these acts, or the people who turn cheek or make excuses for it to minimize is the culprit...Or that certain class of Black people who have some much self-hatred as oppose to pride...That they simply laugh off the 1000's of their own people who were enslaved, beaten, raped. lynched etc.... I am not too sensitive....I am quite aware that I will live and die in racism in America...But don't ever expect me to laugh at inhumane act committed against my race, the murders, rapes and lynching never brought to justice...Because a turned cheek doesn't give respect to Dr. King, Ida Wells, Harriet Tubman etc...And the long list of African-Americans who fought a battle and sacrifice (even their own lifes) so I wouldn't have too...

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  12.   Sakary says:
    Posted: 12 Nov 07

    Racism stays. Period. We have to fight it. Are African Americans often "hypersensitive?" Perhaps. Are "white" Americans ever hypersensitive? Perhaps. Is the entire question a bit ridiculous? I think so. Think again: How long did it take for the US Congress to apologize officially for the slavery? Or for the segregation that was sometimes enforced by the federal government? Why whites went hypersensitive when asked to share some of that "collective guilt?" Believe it, it has done a lot good after the World War II in many European countries ... History makes numbers of people "hypersensitive." A good number of them say "get over it." "Forget it for good." Like if racism and prejudices were things of the past!!! "If we can learn anything from history it is the fact that people in general have learned nothing from history." Hanging puppets represent different things to different people. Connotations, inductions, deductions totally depend on personal background ... I am not suprised at all to learn that some people are "just too damn sensitive" ...

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  13.   Fala says:
    Posted: 09 Nov 07

    Coco, Obama could be our next great leader - if he makes history and becomes the first black president of the U.S.

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  14.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 06 Nov 07

    Remember when we had Black leaders that we looked up to? We fought for change...we don't have a Dr. King kind of leader today.

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  15.   Glock says:
    Posted: 06 Nov 07

    And some people have no clue about the "majority" experience either. Some people actually believe that the "majority" do nothing but sit around and think of ways to keep "minorites" down.

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  16.   Fala says:
    Posted: 06 Nov 07

    Very good point Mossimo. Until they can walk in another person's shoes, they'll never get it.

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  17.   mossimo36 says:
    Posted: 05 Nov 07

    i think perhaps we are hypersensitive, but some folks still have no clue about the minority experience in this country.

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  18.   ladyaly says:
    Posted: 03 Nov 07

    people need to just take a minute in chill, sometimes we over react for the littlest things, and shut up when someone big rises

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  19.   cheeky1968 says:
    Posted: 02 Nov 07

    it seems to me the usa is still behind the times and racialism is still more active there than any where else in the world shame really for a western civalised nation

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  20.   hoganfan says:
    Posted: 30 Oct 07

    Stupity comes from stupid uprisings! Like power will never defeat absolute power, we need to learn love and relationships reguardless of race! Hangings, killings need to be put in the past. Move forward!

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  21.   Fkoi says:
    Posted: 27 Oct 07

    Oh yeah. We are too sensitive. But we have good reason to be. We are a nation founded on freedom but built on racism, genocide and sexism. That dichotomy is a lot to overcome. Then there is what we each bring to the table. A few years ago Arab keffiyehs were commonly sold on street corners and being used as scarfs against the New York City winters. A guy I knew expressed his dislike for that fashion as the scarves represented a people who were bombing his people on a regular basis for a number of years. I asked him if he was wearing an English suit. He was. I told him that suit could be seen as representing the people who had been lynching my people in Ireland for hundreds of years. He got my point (but probably didn't buy a keffiyeh). I think we all have to stop and think before just reacting to what we see. What is the intent? Those kids who wanted their Falcons to beat the Vikings of their rival had no intention to further the still-too-prevalent racism in our country and should be left alone to their harmless fun (or at worst have the suggestiveness of the effigy pointed out to them and let them make an informed semi-adult decision on their own). On the other hand, the use of an actual noose as an intimidation of Afro-American students, police chiefs, professors and workers that have become so prevalent recently should not be condoned or tolerated. Sensitivity is a good thing. Without it change cannot continue. I'm not sure that over-sensitivity has the same positive effect.

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  22.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 27 Oct 07

    Jennasix, what a sad story. So sorry for your loss. It is sad that in today's society, things like this still happen. I pray for you to heal. Don't spend the rest of your life being bitter. Do what you can to make life better for you. Then you can make it better for those around you.

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  23.   Jennasix says:
    Posted: 26 Oct 07

    I am a black female my nephew(age18) was hung in today's society by a group of white peers they said he hung himself, his white girlfriend said he didn't. But nothing was done about it yet. I am so angry because we still live in this day of racism. Times have changed some but we have a long way to go. It is my prayer that people do the right thing because in the end what you do to the least of God's people you also do to God. (judgement)

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  24.   krisshan says:
    Posted: 26 Oct 07

    yes, it does look like a dummy being hung at first glance. then when i looked at the hands, they look dark from where i'm sitting. no, we are not too sensitive. racial injustice goes both ways. now had the tables been turned and the blacks been the ones hanging whites for centuries, us blacks wouldn't be able to hear the end of a white person being hung either so get over it because the world is only going to get worse from here.

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  25.   Glock says:
    Posted: 23 Oct 07

    Yes John, there should be more stories about other groups who experience racism. Like the teenage white couple who were carjacked, kidnapped, raped, sodomized tortoured, he had his genitals cut off, her breasts were cut off before they both were finally killed by a group a black men in Kentucky earlier this year. Did anyone hear about it? Although we did hear about the black woman who was tortoured by a group of white guys in West Virginia last month. And I wonder how many people actually know that this "Jena 6" beat the crap out of a white kid. A white kid who had absolutely nothing to do with the hanging of the noose. Of course this has been totally over shadowed by the black teenagers who have been charged for the crime. Yes I agree, racism is alive and well.

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  26. Posted: 22 Oct 07

    With all the nooses being hung around the country...in response to the Jena 6 injustice, why would you select something that is an "exception to the rule" to make an argument about "are we too sensitive?!" That's ridiculous. Two, why aren't there more articles about other groups that experience racism or any other ism?! I agree with cocokisses

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  27.   stingray3 says:
    Posted: 21 Oct 07

    Oh dear! Only in America. I am not trying to be dismissive or flippant but I read this article as a black British person. When I looked at the photo of the dummy I saw a dummy being grabbed by a claw. I did NOT see a black person being hung. It is a little like when i visited Tate Modern Art Gallery in London some years ago and one of the exhibits was a pile of bricks on the ground. Lots of people were standing around intellectualising about what they saw in the bricks and what they stood for. I just saw a pile of bricks. I do realise however that America's racial history is different to Britain's. Racism is everywhere around the world, not just in America, and although I realise it is a painful history, do we have to create problems where none exist and bring up the past at every opportunity? We should never forget the past but we need to move forward into the future and try to forge a new one.

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  28.   Member says:
    Posted: 21 Oct 07

    As for the mascot itself hanging there, I don't think it was only "blacks" who suffered lynchings. For any white to say blacks are being too sensitive, I think would take a different response if blacks were to say that the towers being targeted is just white America being too sensitive, after all, terrorism is being incurred all around the world, who are we to think that it can't happen to us. Before asking the question about how sensitive a race should be? Consider the broader picture, and maybe we should find different maxims for racial questions. Are "we" (Blacks) too sensitive...well that is diffenitely a relative question?

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  29.   ana says:
    Posted: 21 Oct 07

    It's in poor taste, but I don't think I'd necessarily have a strong reaction to it. It would bother me a bit. To me, if someone is offended, then it is almost certainly insensitive.

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  30.   StarLord says:
    Posted: 18 Oct 07

    This is just over sensitivity on the parents and school admins part, why is it the assumption that a noose is hanging or looks like it's hanging somewhere that it is an african american that is intended to be hanged? actually there were a lot of White people hung in this country and in Europe over the centuries...

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  31.   uscitizen says:
    Posted: 17 Oct 07

    AS AN AFRO/AMERICAN I TRY TO PUT THE RACIAL ISSUE TO REST AND LOOK BEYOND THE HURT AND PAIN . BUT EVERY DAY IN MY DAILY LIFE I AM CONFRONTED WITH SOME FORM OF RACISM, NOT FROM OUR POLITIONSN BUT FROM OUR NEIGHBORS, SCHOOL MATES, WORKMATES AND YES EVEN IN OUR CHURCHES. RACISM IS VERY MUCH ALIVE IN THIS COUNTRY AND NOT JUST FROM WELL KNOWN HATE GROUPS.

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  32.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 15 Oct 07

    I see the photo, but it does not look like someone is hanging, and the dummy doesn't look black. Just my opinion, but it looks like an eagle flying off with someone. Yes we are sensitive, but considering some of the things our people are still dealing with, its no great wonder that we are. The Jena 6 just brought it back to the forefront. Racism is alive and well and living proudly all over the USA and the world.

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