Happy inevitably confusing and disorienting period between Christmas and New Years!
1.. Is this a racially problematic TV ad, or an encouraging one that signals progress?
For me, the commercial raises the question: Have we reached a point when depicting an entire black family acting as moronic as white people are routinely depicted on TV is permissible and white people are allowed to laugh at it?
It made me uncomfortable. Am I alone?
2. Charley Parkhurst. The New York Times project to catch up on all the significant and remarkable women who never received the recognition of an obituary in its pages has been fascinating, and there has been no more interesting entry than this month’s remembrance of Charley Parkhurst, 1812-1879. Parkhurst was a famous driver of six-horse stagecoaches during California’s Gold Rush, a challenging job requiring strength, skill, and unusual honesty. Parkhurst was described as “short and stocky,” a hard-living whiskey drinker, cigar smoker and tobacco chewer, who wore a patch over the empty eye-socket where a horse had kicked out the eyeball. Charley was also universally regarded as male until a doctor discovered, post mortem, that she wasn’t. At a time when a women’s options were severely limited, Parkhurst decided at a young age to live as a man, and was mighty good at it. She even registered to vote in 1868, and some give her the distinction as the first woman to vote in a Presidential election, though there is scant proof of it.
Looking at and thinking about a women “identifying a male” in a different cultural context is fascinating. Was Charley a woman, a male, trans, gay, a fraud, a hero (a heroine?), or just an opportunist and a gutsy realist who did what she wanted to do the only way it was possible for her to do it?
And does it matter? Should it matter?
We are told that Charley also was a lumberjack for a time. I wonder what she would have thought of the Monty Python song?