Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday shopping made easy, another slant on self-help, and Vote for the Racist!

Mr. I-Can-Turn-Anything-Into-A-Marketing-Op is back—just in time for Black Friday—with his holiday gift guide. And guess what: He thinks the best thing you can do for your loved ones is to give the gift of Tony!

I guess it's hard to fault Robbins for taking advantage of what is, historically, the busiest and most profitable day in retail.* But if you've been reading this blog for more than, oh, 10 minutes, you know that TR has an affinity for holiday "mailers." (They arrive through cyberspace, but I still call them mailers; I'm old-school.) He can be depended on to come up with an idea themed to just about every occasion, including certain ones—say, 9/11—that wouldn't normally seem like cause for much gift-giving (or soliciting). But leave it to our man Tony to find a sales hook. By the way, if you feel that you simply can't face the malls on Friday without first hearing an inspirational holiday message from the master, here ya go.

Here's a great column on self-help by Padraic Scanlan, writing in the McGill Daily, the student newspaper at Montreal's McGill University. Scanlan sees self-help through a slightly different prism than I myself used in sorting SHAM offerings into Victimization and Empowerment. Rather, he divides self-help into (a) that which panders to the very weak and (b) that which panders to the very strong. Cannily, he writes, "The very weak seek strategies for gaining emotional strength. The very strong seek justification for their bullying; they aren’t insensitive, they are assertive; they aren't manipulative, scheming overlords; they are self-confident." I do think that Scanlan misses the damage component, conceiving self-help as a mostly victimless crime; we on this blog know better.

Anyway, highly recommended.

I get a lot of grief off-blog for harping on the race thing, so I apologize in advance for going back to that well. I guess I'm just trying to work this all out in my head, and sometimes that endeavor doesn't go too smoothly. Today is one of those times.

Several months ago I registered as a blogger on Barack Obama's site, which entitles me to regular email updates that keep Sen. Obama front-and-center in my consciousness; just got one again an hour ago. Also, we have new polls out that appear to show Obama running neck-and-neck with the presumptive Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Due to all of that, Obama is much on my mind this morning. And what I'm thinking isn't good.

Here is a man who
, presented with his dual racial identity, picked one and rejected the other. Though in his more formal writings Obama adroitly covers his multiracial heritage, he today campaigns as (and indisputably frames himself as) a "black man." So I have a few questions: How does his motherwho raised him after his "black" father walked out on the family when Obama was 2not feel just awful about this? And how do we, as a nation, tolerate it? I don't understand. What difference does it make that he "looks black"? Is that what it's about? So now we're reverting to carpetbagger logic about whether your features are Negroid, or whether you have even a single drop of black blood coursing through your veins? I mean, people: Is this really the dialogue we still want to be having in 2007?

But if we are going to have the dialogue, and if we are going to consider race in electing (or at least talking about) our candidates, then we must label Sen. Obama for what he is: a racist. If ever there were an opportunity for someone to step into the limelight and make a statement
to give us a much-needed lesson by renouncing race and just presenting himself as A Man (or better yet, A Person)Obama embodies that opportunity. But no. Instead we have a guy with a twin heritage who unequivocally, unabashedly shuns one side of that heritage in favor of the other. What that is, is RACISM. And it's an affront to every American, not just Obama's mother or the rest of the "white" ones. It's an affront to every American who upholds colorblindness. And it's about time someone said so.

Happy Thanksgiving! ;)

* Personally I've always found that a bit hard to take, even though I've seen the stats. But you mean to tell me that they sell at flat profit or even a loss for the first 330 days of the year in hopes of edging into profitability during the final 25??

NOTE: One hopes the "turkey symbolism" isn't lost on careful readers....


Mary Anne said...

Hallie Berry does the EXACT same thing as Obama, which I find horrid. Berry was raised by her white mother, but only plays up her black heritage. In MY view, this is done to gain access into the "black community." I find this to be dishonest and ungrateful though. It is also one of the reasons I have problems with Obama. My cousins are half black and were raised by our white grandmother. They too rejected their "white" heritage. Now my cousins know as much about the "black experience" as I do. Before I cause a fire with my comments, I do understand how hard it is to be black in the United States. I just don't believe one has to lie and hurt family to be "black."

a/good/lysstener said...

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Steve. Like most people my age, I guess, I'm going home to "try" to enjoy my family. :-)

Cosmic Connie said...

Alyssa and everyone else who gets a little too *much* family on Thanksgiving: Once again, as I do every year, I find myself recommending the delightful 1995 movie "Home For The Holidays," with Holly Hunter, Dylan Thomas, Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning.

Ron and I watch it every Thanksgiving after the family has all gone home. It is GREAT therapy.

And I hope all of y'all who celebrate the holiday (remember, we have an international audience here) have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

My (white) boyfriend raised his two half-black sons, who love him and are still living with him in their twenties. Yet they both consider themselves to be black. I wonder if it's because that's the way people see them? If everyone who sees you identifies you as black, I guess it would be inevitable. I think our society IS moving closer to color-blindness, but we're not there yet!

S.A. Smith said...

I feel the exact same way. And not only was Hallie Barry's mother abandoned by her black father and raised by her white mother, her black biological father beat her white mother. It just doesn't make sense to me. I think really it's a character issue, which is why I would NEVER vote for Obama. Tiger Woods refuses to deny the role his mother played in his life and, so, consequently refuses to identify himself simply as "black."