Friday, February 4, 2022

Black is beautiful baby

I remember that line from the famous All in the Family episode "Everybody Tells the Truth."  A classic, it's been copied many times over the years in a variety of shows and series. 

The premise is simple: the Bunker family is eating out tonight.  Archie screwed up the refrigerator and blew the power in their apartment.  What follows are three accounts of what happened. 

Meathead Mike and Archive give their take on the events, which center around a refrigerator repairman and his African American apprentice.  When hyper liberal Mike tells the tale, Archie is the undisputed villain.  The repairman is a beat down, good natured blue collar guy, and his apprentice is a meek and cowering 'Uncle Tom', browbeat by Archie's bigotry and fire breathing racism.

Then Archie gives his side.  In his version, the repairman looks like someone eloped from the set of The Godfather.  And his apprentice is right out of the Black Panthers.  Sporting an afro that could fit on a dump truck's axle, a Woodstock shawl, and a switchblade the size of a medieval lance, he waves the knife in the face of a humble and kindly Archie and growls, "Black is beautiful baby." 

Edith finally steps in and sets the record straight (we're expected to trust her view as she is not the other two - which speaks toward reputation I should add).  Two guys came to their apartment and tried to fix the fridge.  While spewing his bigotry, Archive got reprimanded by the apprentice.  Then Archie shooed them out the door and tried to save money by fixing it himself, having used them to learn of the problem.  But Archie is no repairmen, and the Bunkers find themselves eating out.

Anyway, I thought of that glorious episode when I saw this:

I've seen the story several times now.  I have no clue who or what they are, other than obviously something that caters to the homeless, which is fine.  

But note the tale told.  Everything about those trucker protesters is - horrible.  Their trucks block things (you know, like BLM shutting down highways, overpasses and neighborhoods).  They honk their horns.  I guess that would be annoying.  They abuse the staff and demand unwarranted food.  They bark racist slurs at a security guard (a security guard at a soup kitchen?). 

Sorry, but something about that seems, well, Archie.  I see them looking at those protesters through the same lenses that Archie saw the repairman and his black apprentice.  There's just too much 'check the box' in the description.  

Disregard for people?  Check. 

Abusive?  Check.  

Threatening the wellbeing of the community?   Check.  

Greedy and disinterested in others?  Check.  

Racist?  Check. 

That just seems a bit slanted for me.  If they had been a little more low key in their description of the event, perhaps I'd more easily take it at face value. . Something like this perhaps: 'A couple protesters, no doubt not representative of the majority, came in here and wanted meals even though they didn't appear to be at the level of need we cater to.  We explained this, but they became abusive, and we had to ask for security to help deescalate the situation.'  Leave it at that, and it's more believable. 

Had what they said not echoed what I've heard critics of the protesters accuse them of since the news first broke of their protests, would also help.  Had it not appeared like an attempt to paint the whole protest in a negative light, just maybe. 

But my verdict?  A couple protesters may have done what the accusation says.  Furthermore, the protests as a whole, like BLM in 2020, can sometimes cause inconveniences.  And while I'm not saying the people at Shepherds of Good Hope are outright lying, I'm saying their way of seeing the events might have been tainted by their own biases about the greater issues in question. 

The trick isn't to deny your biases, but be aware of how they inform your appraisal of the world


  1. You mean 'protestors' showed up at a soup kitchen demanding service? Non ci credo.

    Since when do soup kitchens and shelters offer 'client transportation'? For what?

  2. I watched the first episode of All in the Family and I just have to ask, is Archie Bunker actually a realistic character? He seems like a caracuture. I didn't find the "Hahahaha old people are racist and dumb, college kids are enlightened," bit to be at all funny. Is this just gen X humor I'm too young to understand? Or were the writers too biased in favor of Meathead?

    1. In answer to your question, some years ago I read an article (in the Sulzberger Birdcage Liner about the house in Queens used in the opening credits. The owner said she did get some annoying visits from curiosity seekers. She was asked about Archie Bunker as a character and personality. She said, "No one like that ever lived around here".

      Given his retrospective comments on the program ("those people should be marginalized"), it would appear that Rob Reiner of Malibu, California never appreciated the structural relationship between the characters. I cannot believe that Norman Lear, Carroll O'Connor, or Jean Stapleton didn't get it, but Reiner certainly did not.

      Here's Archie Bunker, wage earner, union member, employed in a warehouse (if I'm not mistaken), moonlighting now and again as a cab driver. He's a WWii veteran, married for over 20 years, had as many children his wife's anatomy allowed, and provides with his wages a home for his wife, his daughter, and his son-in-law. Cannot recall if Gloria had a work-a-day job or not, but her husband certainly did not. So, this man, dependent on his father-in-law, is ungrateful, argumentative, and disdainful of the man. The character development of Meathead Stevic concludes with his adultery and the dissolution of his marriage. One of these men is a giving human being who is somewhat irritable and makes vulgar remarks. The other is just a sh!t six ways to Sunday.

  3. Art hit the nail on the head. Liberals were appalled that audiences loved the Archie character, because he was a man in full, and not a stereotype.


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