Is Loving Watermelon Now Racist? An Offence Very Easily Committed: March 1, 2009

In the last three minutes, I posted a Newsweek essay No Apologies: Why We Worry About Seeming Racist on Michelle-Style, and then landed on Huff Po to read White House Watermelon Email From California Mayor Dean Grose Inspires Outrage.

Writer of the “No Apologies” essay, African American Rainia Kelley argues that context means everything in the minefield that (mostly white) journalists walk in writing about Black culture. Or African American culture. I’m not sure if I must say one or the other, in order not to offend.

In the case of now-resigned Los Alamitos mayor Dean Grose, Kelley writes: “you’re on your own.” Like me, she’s not taking a position.

I’m a really smart woman, and I don’t know the answer to the above quandry. And for once, I’m not investing time to Google, read up and discover the right answer. Black culture …African American culture … my intention is to write the ‘right’ words.

My focus is preserving my own integrity, on the subject of watermelon.

This journal is stream of consciousness writing. Consider it: Anne Unplugged this morning. (OK, so I’ve gone over the top before … but I do spend a lot of time fact-checking when I write.)

Creating Context Around Watermelon

The sequence of events:

• Los Alamitos mayor Dean Grose sent the following email: this photo with watermelons and the message “No Easter egg hunt this year.”

• Local businesswoman and colleague Keyanus Price is furious, saying: “I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes,” Price told The Associated Press. I honestly don’t even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin’-mayor - come on.”

The Offending Visual of Watermelons Growing at the White House

Offending visual that accompenied the emailI’m assuming that a bed of lettuce would have been OK in the Dean Grose email. It’s watermelon that offended Keyanus Price.

Hang on a minute, though … don’t we have a history of boycots around California-grown lettuce?

Perhaps lettuce doesn’t offend African Americans, but Mexican migrant workers might be furious over lettuce growing in this White House visual.

Enough said. Another day I will search for a totally inoffensive green to grow in the White House lawn.

Going Green on the White House Lawn

Most of us know that there’s serious discussion regarding a veggie garden at the White House, influenced by trends in California. Healthy eating is a high priority for the Obamas.

Watermelon & What It Means In Our Psyches

I just checked out a colleague’s site Michelle Obama Watch, but no mention of this topic. If the email is truly offensive, it will be called out on a site I LIKE very much.

Anne doesn’t comment often, but I’ve taken up plenty of her web space, in a discussion around whether the word ‘sassy’ is racist.

I just reviewed Anne of Carversville for watermelon references, and I may have offended as well. We know that I can be a devil or an Aphrodite, whichever rocks your boat.

Anne Be Damned

There’s my sexy health benefits of watermelon article, which opens with a big photo of watermelon and then scientific research on watermelon as an aphrodisiac.

This post was the beginning of my erotic food demise, although if the truth be told, my journey into the depths of depravity probably occurred eating watermelon at the bar, at a long-closed Manhattan jazz club, the West Boondocks.

It’s true that at 3am, just prior to closing time, the African American owner got out the watermelon for his close friends and associates. Who knows, perhaps mayor Grose hung out with us, and thought talking about watermelon conjured up fond memories in people’s minds.

Friendly Watermelon Intervention

Subsequently, on Dec. 28, 2008 I tied this Private Eye photo to my alleged addiction erotic food photography. 

Mister President, Sir. Can’t you do something? Anne really admires you, and I know she would listen to you and Michelle. We’re terribly concerned, sir. One moment she’s writing about saving the Environment and Going Green. And now … it’s Erotic Food! Do you think it was the influence of the Boy Toy, sir?Coupled with these offences are my continued references to our fabulous First Lady Michelle as a Yummy Mummy.

Word Choice Tripping Up

In defense of the incriminating White House watermelon visual, I do believe that lettuce would not be as visually effective as watermelon. I will also point out that the mayor was looking for something round that could be rolled, in lieu of Easter eggs.

My only point is that an alternative route in these matters is to not automatically assume the worst in people. Perhaps I am totally looking at the world with rose-colored glasses this morning. I’m also curious if the now-resigned mayor was an effective official.

Is his city actually better off without him in these incredibly challenging times?

Buried Deep in the Muckey Muck

I offer us no final opinion on whether or not mayor Dean Grose sent a racist email to Keyanus Price. Nor am I clear if I’m subliminally racist for suggesting that Michelle Obama is “hot” … among other glorious attributes of hers, qualities I hold in high regard.

It’s no secret that I think we all need to loosen up a bit and spread the love. The nation’s stress level could use a bit of lowering here, and I’m working on it daily. This is my new life purpose.

Experiencing sensuality, pleasure and an active, positive sexuality lowers stress. This is a medical fact. So I’m planting my own watermelon garden, here at Anne of Carversville.

Symbols, Unconscious Minds and Blurting Out “Bad” Words

The human psyche is a complex neural network, a “living” organism of sorts. In the pursuit of being “real”, it’s pretty easy for humans not to offend someone.

I struggle with “watermelon” as being fundamentall offensive to African Americans, because I LOVE watermelon. I’ve eaten watermelon in the dead of winter for years … like right now there is watermelon in my refrigerator.

I have only the best things to say about watermelon, and now that I know it’s an aphrodisiac, well I’ll be popping it in as many mouths as possible … women, men, kids …even my doorman.

Crime Committed

Wait, wait … I didn’t actually mean that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rolling along here on Sunday morning, trying to make a point about how much I love watermelon, I have unintentionally walked off a cliff.  My comments honest-to-goodness don’t have anything to do with my love of African American culture, and a few African American women who are my dear friends for life, and a few African American men who are also my friends for life … and their kids, who I also adore.

Watermelon, Feta and Onion Salad from Sophia Lindop

via Capetable, a South African food blogI was eating watermelon in my prairie town of Lake Benton, Minnesota since I was a little girl. There’s wasn’t an African American person in sight for miles.

Sexual Clarifications

Forget that I uttered the word “kids”, and I’m not really trying to “get it on” with my doorman, when I speak of sharing watermelon.

If the truth be told, I don’t have a sexual thing for African American women — or any women — even though an awful lot of men wish that I did. Women do, too, if the truth be told …wish I had a thing for women.

None of this true.

I just like watermelon … with a passion. Watermelon is not racial or sexual to me. It is a simple pleasure, a joy to eat, and I feel good thinking about watermelon. If we were doing one of those breathe deeply and let your mind wander to a good place exercises, I might be visualizing watermelon.

Editorial Quandry …

What to do now … out here on the editorial ledge. I can erase the entire 200 words written above, on the risk that I will get in big trouble once and for all … or I can let it stand. After all, I have no bid-city editor breathing down my neck, with bankruptcy knocking at the door.

I can write what I want here in this Journal.

 … When Watermelon Represents All That’s Good In My Life

In an effort to demonstrate — if not intellectual rigor and mastery of important ideas — how easy it is to unintentionally commit an offending transgression to someone, I will let my remarks stand.

If my many readers dared to comment about my writing (which most say they don’t dare … an unfortunate situation for me), they would confirm that I surely have offended someone here this morning.

And my only point is … the offence was committed without forethought and intention. In a moment of exhuberance, I wrote potentially “bad words”, because I didn’t catalogue all the possible negative associations with my creative explosion.

Now I must make a decision …to run for the hills and be politically correct, or attempt to share with the world just how easy it is to offend someone, especially when you are the generator of “creative” ideas or poor, tasteless — perhaps racist —  jokes, however you interpret mayor Grose’s watermelon email and my writing.

Anne Says: The Watermelon Stands!

It is my fervent hope that in addition to spending more time lovin’ in bed and absolutely in the kitchen, that we will all work a bit harder to cut each other some slack in life.

All I can say about watermelon is that it’s one of the few things that I still believe in these days.

When I sit down to eat a piece of watermelon, not only is it an unadulterated pleasure, but my conscience is clear eating it.

I do not personally think it would be racist to grow watermelons on the White House lawn, but I leave this decision to our newly-beloved First Couple and the White House food staff. They will do the right thing.

Perhaps the Obamas could somehow redeem watermelon, restoring it to a race-neutral place in everyone’s minds.

Enough said for one Sunday morning. Peace out. Anne