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Opinion: Racism in America

This week Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and the Eskimo Pie guys were fired by the parent company that owns the brands. The company, Quaker/PepsiCo, is making what they describe as a long-overdue change as the images promote racial stereotypes. I can’t help but wonder if the man with the nice hat on Quaker Oats will be next?

I was unaware that the best pancake mix on the market, her syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice dishes carried logos that were a source of anger or sadness among a segment of our population.

It seems fairly recent that market magnet Madison Avenue has begun to market to people from untraditional family units. Have you noticed that mixed-race families are being featured on many of the television commercials? The ads used to be all families of the same color. Now you are just as apt to see a blended family or same sex parents featured as they try to sell you wireless phone service or breakfast cereal. Is that cultural sensitivity or just marketing?

Meanwhile, hordes of angry people are tearing down statues that have stood for generations because the individuals depicted were Confederate soldiers or other people who did questionable things during their lives. A reader sent me a message this week calling me a racist for last week’s column.

It came as a complete surprise to me because my husband of 40-plus years is Native American. Definitely not a white boy.

I have life-long friends that are African Americans. I can’t begin to know how these friends feel about the way they have been marginalized by society. I certainly never contributed to that feeling or treated them differently than my white or Mexican friends. I know what it is like to be marginalized by people in power. All my life I have been a fat, white, Okie girl. The obese among us can tell you how that feels.

Nancy Pat’s fat shaming of President Donald J. Trump for taking Hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19 was a low blow. She had the audacity to call him by the clinical term morbidly obese. She may not know it, but that lost her more fat votes than she can imagine. Whatever words you use, nobody likes being called fatso! Especially by the Democratic party’s most prominent member, who is third in line to be POTUS.

The thing is, if you think I am fat now, you should have seen me when I was close to 400 pounds. Now that Tami Jo was fat. My doctor called me morbidly obese. I carried a lot of baggage around about that, pun intended.

I used to cringe any time the word fat was mentioned, even if the context was marbling on a piece of beef. If someone said can I ask you a question? I cringed because I knew they were going to ask me how much I weighed.

I come from a family of big stock but I was close to normal size in grade school. I went to James Monroe Elementary School and our classes were examples of the Sunday School song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

My mother taught us the color of a person’s skin does not reflect the quality of their character. We were living in Nashville when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. She mourned his death.

One of my childhood best friends, Anita Williams, taught me the difference between the words Negro and the bad “N” word, when we were probably in the first grade. She told me the “N” word described a dirty, low-down person. That word had the power to make my friend sad. That I understood. There are words that wield a great deal of power, and that is one of them.

I must have known some of my classmates weren’t white, but it really didn’t matter. As children, Anita and I walked around on the playground with our arm’s linked or holding hands.

In junior high we had a few record-hop dances. White girls danced with black boys and vice versa. The black boys could really dance well. Many of the white boys were too self-conscious to really cut loose and feel the music.

In high school, a boy named Cortez Hill, whose last name matches my maiden name, became my brother from another mother. I loved his mother Katherine, who worked at the Madera County Health Department. His dad and my mom worked at Madera County Hospital together and were good friends.

He and my brother played football together at Fresno City College. Somewhere, I still have the Madera Tribune clipping featuring the Madera boys wearing FCC Rams uniforms. There were about nine of them, including two coaches from Madera.

There is a large family of Tate kids in Madera. They were one of those families where there was a Tate that was almost everybody’s age. Alice Tate Williams is in my class. She is a shining example of a sister from another mister. I attended her wedding and she bakes the best tasting cakes. What she can do with frosting is nothing short of incredible.

The people tearing our country apart, looting and burning down businesses aren’t honoring George Floyd’s memory. They are financially backed by people who are doing their best to make President Trump look bad. In the last four years the Democrats have done everything in their power to overturn the 2016 election.

They simply can’t grasp the concept that the citizens of the United States were tired of Democratic rule and went in a different direction. They were so sure Queen Hillary was going to win. Her upset over the political upstart billionaire Donald Trump was not expected. As election day drew closer, her campaign began to coast, over-confident that she was to be the 45th POTUS.

I can’t count how many celebrity videos I have seen where they say things like, “Donald Trump will never be president, take it to the bank!” or something similar.

If anyone is highly offended by last week’s column, I am sorry your feelings were hurt. I still believe every word I wrote, but I feel bad you were offended. Thanks for reading The Madera Tribune.

Have a safe and great weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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