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Black People Love Us

White men can't jump (to assumptions about race)

Ralph De La Cruz

December 12, 2002

Don't you just love how Jews are so thrifty with their money?

Those fiery Cubans are absolutely adorable when they lose their tempers.

Isn't it cute when white people try to dance?

And gays. They have such natural talent for decorating.

Of course, I'm just mocking these insidious stereotypes.

Or rather, just wondering.

The Web site, blackpeopleloveus.com, makes you do that kind of wondering.

The home page tells surfers: "We are well-liked by Black people so we're psyched (since lots of Black people don't like lots of White people)!! We thought it'd be cool to honor our exceptional status with a ROCKIN' domain name and a killer website!!"

Below that are photos of the site's supposed proprietors, a white couple named Sally and Johnny. And then, testimonials from black friends.

"Sally's always saying: 'You go girl!' while 'raising the roof' to mainstream hip-hop tracks at cheesy bars," says one. "That's fun! I relate to that."

Another reads, "Sally and Johnny give me ample opportunities to translate rap lyrics, reggae songs, and/or street slang!"

At first, I found it rude and insulting, but remained intrigued.

It wasn't until I clicked on the "Hanging Out" link that the intent really became clear.

The page opens with a photo of Sally and Johnny, goofy expressions on their faces, high-fiving each other. "Bam!! This is how we do it!" the caption says.

That's followed with a picture of Sally playing Pictionary. Her partner has drawn a picture of Africa, and Sally's totally baffled. And then there's Johnny, playing hangman and, despite getting the R, C, I, S, and M, not being able to figure out the solution to R_CISM.

It becomes more clear this is parody, not put-down.

The Web site is the creation of a white, twentysomething sister and brother, Chelsea and Jonah Peretti.

"Because this site is funny, we knew it would reach people who might not ordinarily think about these issues," Jonah Peretti told the New York Times. "We wanted to promote dialogue, to get people talking about these issues."

It works. I challenge anyone to visit the site and leave without questioning the stereotypes each of us carries.

To understand the difficult emotions that the Web site inspires, all you have to do is go to the "Your Letters" section.

"After looking at your website, I at first was appalled by the outlandish rhetoric that was used throughout it," wrote Keith RC II, who identifies himself as a black student at the University of Virginia. "However, the more I looked at the site the more I was conflicted in my views. At first glance this seems like a mockery of the black culture and made by ignorant people, however, it also seems like a mockery of white culture and its ignorance and constant quest to be 'hip.'

"So as of now, I am leaning towards the satire aspect of this website and the ignorance that it is exploiting. I commend the creator for making this site, however it would have been nice to know who actually are the creators, because I don't believe it is just Sally and Johnny, rather a collaboration of them and some black people."

Sally and Johnny are indeed fictional characters portrayed by friends of the Perettis. The two creators' father is Jewish and their mother Italian. When they were mere tykes, their parents divorced. Their father married a black woman, infusing the two with a totally new cultural awareness.

"There is a mistake that people have made about the division of labor," Peretti says. "It's like racism is something only people of color can think about. Feminism is something only women can think about."

We all need to discuss bigotry and stereotypes more openly. The Perettis' site succeeds in making it happen.

Ralph De La Cruz can be reached at rdelacruz@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4727.

Copyright Ā 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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