A car dealer in south Florida decided to do one of his TV commercials in Spanish. Not a surprise in south Florida, right? What really surprised Earl Stewart was the response he got from certain members of the public.
The ad began running a week ago and I have been surprised and shocked by the negative phone calls and emails I have received. There have not been a lot, but they have come in steadily every day. There are more people in South Florida than I realized who resent Hispanics. They tell me that they are insulted that I would allow a Spanish language ad to run on the TV set in their living room and that they would never buy a car from me. Some miss the point of the commercial entirely and tell me that “those Hispanics should learn to speak English!” I can’t figure out why they think Hispanic people are watching WPTV Channel 5 news if they don’t understand English. I also hear a lot of people who say they can’t stand the phone recordings that say “touch one for English”, etc. I don’t quite see how that relates to my TV ad. Perhaps the most disturbing phenomenon has been comments from friends of mine who feel strongly that the only language that should be permitted to be spoken in America is English.
I don’t live anywhere near Florida, but I have a feeling he wouldn’t get a much warmer reception in my region. I’m not convinced that racism has declined much at all since it became recognized as a national problem decades ago. It’s just another of the forms of stupidity that humans seem unable or reluctant to let go of.
I think about racism every time I see Obama on the news. My gut feeling—admittedly pessimistic—is that he doesn’t have a chance of being elected president, and as a running mate he could easily ruin Hillary’s chances as well. Too many racist voters are just not ready for that. And if you want to throw sexism into the mix, I’m not sure Hillary’s chances are all that much better either.
I felt a lot better about the US’s potential for social progress before GWB got elected—twice! So far the millennium hasn’t been too encouraging. Whatever happens next, I doubt I’m going to like it.
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