So…I was on Facebook, you know, Facebookin’, and I came across one of my Facebook “friend’s” posts which contained an article about a disclaimer that Amazon has for old-school Tom & Jerry cartoons:
The comment that this particular Facebook “friend” had written to accompany their post made me feel some kind’o way: “Wow, everything is racist these days…..So sick of the people who complain about every single thing!”
Now, I tend to steer clear of making comments on racially-involved posts made by my white (or otherwise non-Black) friends. Not because I am deluded into thinking that racism is under control and there is no need to “rock the boat” and bring up past hurts. No; I steer clear because honestly, there is no possible way that they can understand my point of view (if it opposes theirs about a particularly racially-sensitive subject), and I have neither the desire nor the time to “school” them on it. However, my “friend’s” comments pissed me off because they came from a place of ignorance. In that moment, I started to say something, but I held fast because, although I am not a confrontational person, I do have a very sharp tongue and massive vocabulary. I am also a big believer in following my own advice when it comes to Facebook: If I see something I deem to be bullshit, I scroll past said bullshit.
Nevertheless, while I do have strong feelings about the statement that my “friend” made, as I am obviously a person of color, and there have been some very obvious and pervasive instances of racism that some members of society dismiss as “misunderstandings” or “whining” on the part of persons of color, I shan’t digress from the point of this post.
Now, for those who grew up watching Tom & Jerry like I did, you can attest that, while you laughed your asses off at the hijinks between the cat and mouse, some of the character depictions in the cartoons were blatantly racist. The most pervasive example is the depiction of the black maid whose face is never seen, and the contrasting presence of faces for all of the white characters. There were also other cartoons under the Tex Avery umbrella that were so offensive that they aren’t even broadcast today. However, my point is this: Despite how we may feel about it now, the racism that was inherent in those cartoons was simply reflective of the time in which they were released. The Tom & Jerry cartoons are a part of history, and just as every other impropriety in history is preserved, so should the integrity of these cartoons, if for no other purpose but to teach younger generations about the type of ignorance that was widely accepted at that time and why it should no longer be thus.
I honestly believe that Amazon, in their aim to preserve said integrity, did the responsible thing in warning viewers about the potentially offensive content of the cartoons. In this instance, contrary to my misguided “friend’s” opinion, it’s not about something being made to be about racism or another frivolous complaint or racial hoax; it’s about acknowledging that within something that is beloved lies something ugly for which people who have never seen the cartoons need to be prepared.