Not A Pink Girl

Why your parents are scared of Barack Obama.

October 30, 2008
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Children of rabid right-wing parents, please watch this. Your parents are just scared. They pretend they’re voting for McCain-Palin because they’re against allowing a woman to choose what happens to her own body.

Really, they’re just scared of people who don’t look like them, or have as much money as they do. They’re scared that, if anyone but a white person becomes president, all their money will somehow be taken from them & their homes will somehow not be safe from intruders.

Your scared parents’ use of abortion as a reason to vote for or against someone is just a coverup for the real reasons they don’t want an African-American Democrat as president. It makes your parents look so morally upright when they tell you they’re against “killing babies.” It makes them feel so much better about themselves. They paint McCain-Palin’s opponents as “baby murderers” because they don’t want to admit to their children, friends, colleagues, extended family, or themselves that the real reason they don’t want Barack Obama as president is because they’re prejudiced.

The root definition of the word “prejudice” is to “judge in advance.” Extremists always act out of fear. They judge people before they know them or what they really stand for. They judge them on what they can see – the color of their skin that’s different from their own – or from what their parents taught them about people whose skin is dark or who don’t speak the same language we do or go to the same church we do. Prejudice is the basis of hate.

You can change the world. You can love your parents because they’re doing their best with what they’ve been taught; they just are having trouble rising above their F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real). You can love your parents & you can also know in your heart that they’re wrong.

We’re counting on you to do the right thing!

 

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It’s a white white world for Vera Bradley (conclusion)

June 25, 2008
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I remember when I was a kid in the 1960s & 1970s & catalogs started to integrate. Every once in a while you’d see an African-American woman posing for Montgomery Ward. We had that catalog more than we had Sears, Roebuck, although we’d get that once every other year or so. It was really a big deal when this started happening.

It was by no means common though. It was really a big deal though when television sitcoms started to have African-American characters, like Julia (which I adored because she was so skinny & gorgeous) & The Jeffersons. There was also Clarence Williams III on The Mod Squad; Lloyd Haynes who played Pete Dixon, the history teacher on Room 222 (I went to Catholic school & was taught by nuns, so I was like, Golly, not only a male teacher, but a black male teacher! [& yes, I really did say Golly; my citified Philadelphia cousins used to call me Gomer Pyle]); not to mention all the sitcom spinoffs that followed.

In 1968, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (Fair Housing Act) was passed.  This prohibited discrimination in housing-related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (single families, pregnant women), or handicap (disability). I remember when this happened because advertising changed.

It used to be that when you were looking at ads for apartments or houses for sale in the Evening Star (the DC-area newspaper back then) or the Washington Post, the cute little families pictured would all be white (you know, sort of like the families in the Vera Bradley catalog circa 2008). Now, when you look at these ads, families of color are depicted. It seems so silly that we would have to pass a law to get this to happen. You have to be pretty cloistered if you never see an ethnic face. Of course, in this area, most of the people in the service-related industries (restaurants for example) are immigrants.

Knowledge of how advertising has changed over the decades makes the Vera Bradley catalog even more weird to me. I don’t think companies spend money on advertising without doing serious market research & analysis. So the question is, did Vera Bradley – the person or the company – make a conscious decision to market her things only to affluent whites? Is she trying to make a statement (through subliminal messages) that rich white girls carry Vera Bradley purses?

The anomaly of this all-white advertising stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I wonder if anyone else noticed it?

 


A snapshot of (white?) America via Vera Bradley

June 23, 2008
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I wonder if the models in the Vera Bradley catalog watch golf? Somehow I doubt it. On page 19 of the catalog, there’s a list of the names of all the models that appear.

We have Blue, the “little furry friend” of VB, who happens to be the most endearing, in my opinion. I think he’s a Yorkie. Then there’s Bailey & her friend Molly, her mother Brenda & brother Brady. (Now I guess I have to get into a discussion of the merits [are there any?] of a woman who would name all her children with names that begin with the same letter.) The whole fam-damily is dripping with WASPishness.

Next is Sarah, friend of one of the Bradleys. The name Sarah is Hebrew for “princess” & was the fourth most popular baby girl name for white New Yorkers surveyed in 2004. She’s the most ethnic-looking one of the bunch – which is refreshing – but her (obviously) dark hair is dyed blonde. *sigh*

On page 6 is Carly, a VB summer intern. What a gig, huh? Cathy is pictured working up a sweat learning to be a tag-flipper at the local quasi-antiques emporium. Bet I’d go through some serious sticker shock checking the prices at stores in the Hamptons compared to what things cost at my local junk store.

Next? A group of little girls holding umbrellas & jumping a la Miss America on the seashore. We have Reagan (hold my head somebody), McKenzie, Savannah, Kaitlyn & Sarah, all daughters of the Vera Bradley Classic Steering Committee. Huh? Wonder what they do on that committee. Steering what? More non-ethnic customers to their goods? “Get their brand loyalty young” is the message here, I guess.

1964, when people chose old-fashioned names

And who names their daughter Reagan? Should I guess when her birthday is? All the girls pictured look to be about 9 years old. Let’s see. Assume the photos for this catalog were taken in 2007. So that means Reagan was probably born in 1998. It was announced in 1994 that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s Disease, & that would have put him in the news. He didn’t die until 2004, & I think the girl pictured is older than 4, so it wouldn’t have been his death that caused the newborn’s parents such extreme grief & nostalgia for the Gipper they named their baby daughter after him.

In the 1964 kindergarten Christmas pageant photo above, the children’s names are Steve, Cheryl, Patti, Nancy, Gary, Joann, Kevin, Karen, Randall, Kathy, Julia (my sister, third from the right in the front row), Colleen & Cathy. I don’t think anyone names their girls Cathy, Kathy, or Kathie (my nickname) anymore. If they name a girl Katherine (my name), the nickname is usually Kate or Katie, if they allow a nickname at all.

In 1998 the US was winding down one of the most prosperous periods in recent history. The budget was balanced, we had a $230 billion budget surplus (read that figure again; George W. Bush & the Republicans wiped this out after only 3 months in office) & gas was about 99 cents a gallon. Bill Clinton was halfway through his second term & the Evil Empire (you guessed it, the Republicans again) was hellbent on impeaching him for his affair with Monica.

(Try to get your brain around that: George W. Bush & Dick Cheney lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction & have gone unpunished [& rewarded: don’t forget that George W. Bush’s daddy has Zapata Oil Company, so all these skyrocketing gas prices put money literally right into George W. Bush’s pocket, & Dick Cheney has Halliburton, a company that specializes in rebuilding oil-rich countries ravaged by war, so by destroying Iraq he’s padding his own bank account; that’s why it’s called blood money], but Bill Clinton had an affair & lied about it, & he got impeached. So don’t make excuses to me about how you’re “not political” so you don’t vote. You should be ashamed & you know it.)

There were a lot of angry white men in the middle class (AMCWMs) in 1998, & they hated Bill Clinton because they were just flat-out jealous of him. (You think I’m kidding? Ask any of them to explain to you why they hate Bill Clinton so much & if you press them, you’ll get to the truth: Bill had a full head of hair in his mid-50s, heaps of charisma & sex appeal, friends from every strata of society, & young hotties running around after him, not to mention he was the leader of the free world [& doing a darn good job too], which sure don’t hurt in the Sexy Department. What did these AMCWMs have? Ouch.)

So maybe, just to fit in with the anti-Clinton crowd at the local pub, these AMCWMs convinced their wives to name their kid Reagan. That, & slapping a I’M THE NRA AND I VOTE sticker on their Chevy Tahoe probably made them feel right at home with all the other male-pattern-baldness anti-Affirmative-Action middle-age-creeps.

Moving on.

There’s Angelee with her baby Anika on page 10. Ooh! She could be Latina! Maybe she changed her name from Angel? Although that is rather a male name… But Anika? That sounds more Scandinavian to me. Darn. By the way Angelee got her picture in the VB catalog because she owns a Vera Bradley retail shop. Full disclosure.

Now maybe Vera runs into a problem getting white Anglo-Saxon Protestant women to pose for the catalog, because she starts repeating faces. On page 12 is Brenda again, the same Brenda that posed in her high-end-furnished kitchen on page 3 with her B-named offspring. I find it interesting to note that Brenda’s last name (or is it her husband’s) means “leather tanner” & is the name of a family that arrived in the New World as early as the 1700s. Perhaps an old-line Knickerbocker family? Probably used to having nice furniture I guess.

I skipped Cathy, Brenda’s friend, with whom she is photographed lunching. Cathy could be Latina too! So far, that’s 2.5 (not sure about Angelee) vaguely-ethnic-looking models out of 15.

On page 14 in a photo titled “Meeting Time,” we join Aimee (what there anything so wrong with just plain old-fashioned Amy?). She’s dressed for success circa 1983 & almost as white as her teeth.

Allison & John try to row a dinghy weighted down with wildly-printed VB beach towels trailing in the drink. Approximately-10-year-old Allison is said to be the granddaughter of Mary Ann, VB sales consultant, & John – aged about 7 & dangerously blond & fair-skinned to be out on the water on such a sunny day (hope his mommy has slathered him with SPF 45) – who is the great-grandson of Vera Bradley herself! Gosh, that young & it’s already about who you know that gets you anywhere in this world.

Sherry jots pithy notes in her journal as she sits on the pier on page 17. Her last name is the same as a famous prizefighter (although it’s spelled a bit differently), but I have a strong suspicion they’re not related.

Last but not least, we visit our Favorite Bee Family yet again. On page 18, we are reunited with Brenda & daughter Bailey (bee-bee), waiting on the tarmac to board their Cessna. My! Is summer in the fabulous Hamptons over already? Or is it just beginning? Time sure flies when you’re this rich! This picture irks me (surprise surprise) for another reason. Dear Bailey girl is wearing Navajo sandals, which I adore & covet (what? no Vera Bradley flipflops?).

The upshot of all this is that I can’t believe a popular women’s brand like Vera Bradley would have no African-American models. Sorry Vera, but your America is not what America really looks like.

More on this in my next post. Happy Midsummer’s Eve! I hope you are enjoying “high-spirited merrymaking & lighthearted bewitchment.”

 


This is 2008, not 1958, right?

June 21, 2008
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I was flipping through the Vera Bradley catalog I got in the mail. I’m not really a Vera Bradley girl (partially because I’m not a pink girl [natch] & her things have so much pink in them), but last year I must have gotten on a mailing list (I suspect Hallmark) & I started receiving these catalogs.

I’ve bought my mom a few Vera Bradley items. One is a beautiful quilted jacket that I got brand-new, never-worn on eBay for some ridiculously low price like $20. One is done in a pattern called “Pinwheel Pink” & it’s a travel organizer for all one’s toiletries. I got it on amazon for $47 (which is pretty much the retail price).

I’ve never seen my mom wear the jacket, so I’m not sure how thrilled she is with it. But she said she loves the travel case. She often goes back & forth between her house & my sister’s house (about a 40-mile drive), so I think this accessory comes in handy for her.

The print is a special Vera Bradley pattern in that VB claims they donate 10% of the net proceeds from the sale of a Pinwheel Pink piece to The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer & other breast cancer projects & services. My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor (& a three-time cancer survivor), so it’s nice to know I’m giving to a good cause when I buy something. (Although I suspect not much money ever gets to cancer research; call me cynical, but my experience with corporate America has led be to think they pretty much keep every dime they can in their own pockets.)

So I get the Vera Bradley catalogs every couple of months. The latest catalog is entitled “Take Time” & I think it’s the spring 2008 catalog. It’s not large (it has about 26 pages). The stunning thing about this advertisement is that it could have been printed in 1958. Why? Because every model in the booklet is white. (Or canine.)

Thumbing through the pages, I was annoyed to notice that it looked like it was photographed in the Hamptons of Long Island, New York. (I differentiate because I live in Virginia, & we have a Hampton Roads area here that’s near Norfolk & Virginia Beach [that’s where our state Democratic Convention is being held this weekend] & I don’t think this catalog was photographed there.)

You know, the snobby Hamptons, where Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame takes the jitney with her grrfrens for wild summer weekends of drinking, romance, drinking, general cattiness, drinking, & icky stuff like nausea, shocking breakups & scabies (usually acquiring while – you guessed it – drinking).

I know one of the reasons I have a bad opinion of the Hamptons is because I’m jealous. You have this gorgeous piece of land that abuts the beach with great Malibu-esque beach houses on it, & you make it so horrifically expensive to go there that you keep all the “undesirables” (like me) out. You know, just like they did with Malibu.

It makes me laugh (but not in a funny way) when I see people like Martha Stewart hobnobbing with Diddy just because each of them has enough money to buy land in the Hamptons & throw huge, expensive-champagne-soaked parties there during high season. Can you imagine them actually hanging out together if their common fortunes hadn’t thrown them into the same high-rent districts? Yep, when Sean John rolls up to his East Hampton crib, he’s far from the PJs in Harlem where he was born. & I doubt that when Martha & the Diddster are clinking Cristal that she realizes his father was gunned down when Diddy was 3 years old because he was an associate of druglord Frank Lucas, recently played by Denzel Washington in the movie American Gangster (a movie you should be sure & miss because it’s not good; any Denzel is good, but this movie wasted his talent).

(Speaking of Frank Lucas, don’t forget what Fat Joe said:

Haters get tight when you’re worth a million,

That’s why I wear this chinchilla, to hurt their feelings.

Joey Crack, if you’re reading this, I love you. Holla @ your girl.)

And you know that Diddy has no idea that Martha’s daddy was a Polish American who was a drug dealer in his own right, although he peddled his wares legally. Could it be that this, & not their obscene wealth, is the thread that draws Martha & Diddy together, that their respective fathers were in the same business?

But how ironic is it that Martha’s done time & Diddy has not? So does that mean that Martha has street cred but the Diddster’s just a wangsta?

Believe me, they’re not taking the smelly old jitney to the Hamptons. Their helicopter pilots are just scanning the world below for that big “H” so they can land the whirlybird & disgorge their passengers, most of whom have more money than everyone in my little suburb combined.

I took this picture @ The Inaugural President\'s Cup

And now they can commiserate with poor Tiger Woods who just bought a property nearby for for a cool $65 million. At least I don’t have to see him pump his fist & bare his teeth like a 7-year-old anymore (or at least for awhile). Did you hear that huge collective sigh of relief coming from Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Rocco Mediate, Fred Couples (my favorite, pictured above at the President’s Cup), etc., when Tiger announced his forced retirement? My little breathy emission of elation was included in that roar, believe me. Now I can enjoy watching professional golf – live & on television – again!

More on this thread in my next post. Happy first day of summer!


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