[URL to audio of Bill Handel’s Comments Regarding Black Women - http://www.playlist.com/node/43063752 ] The image of Black women has been under attack since the first African female slave stepped off the ship and her white mistress set eyes upon on her. And through the years, whether it was the Massuh we had to contend with and his penchant for darker skin or the racist police officer, landlord, or boss, we’ve held our heads high and carried on. From being the backbone of the Black family to becoming nappy headed hoes and being found in shacks, raped, beaten and urinated on, we have endured it all. Even when we’re ranked number one in the world, our asses are still being analyzed during matches on live television for the world to see and hear. Why? Because we get no respect. Misogynistic lyrics recited by Black men and financed by white, continue to portray us as sexual objects to the point where some of us are so confused that we actually started to answer to the call.
Yet and still, she can get a tan almost the same shade of Black, and still get more respect. Grow locks that are nappier and longer and thanks to collagen and Botox, buy the fullness and roundness of my lips, hips, breasts, and ass and have them installed during her lunch break. While he, comedian Charles Knipe can put on a dress complete with Blackface, a poor example of Southern Black dialect, and an afro wig and take home $1000 or more for his trouble.
Now with Michelle Obama poised to become the First Lady, our image has been likened to that of a “washer woman” and a “baby’s mama.”
Where do we draw the line? That’s what I want to know after hearing Los Angeles based radio shock jock Bill Handel (“The Bill Handel Show”) on KFI 640 A.M. refer to airport screeners as fat Black ladies living in South Los Angeles.
The comment was made as Handel was reporting on the Los Angeles City Council placing a moratorium on fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles. The one-year moratorium, proposed by Councilwoman Jan Perry, a Black woman, is aimed at attracting restaurants serving healthier fare to the area, where a study found 30% of children are obese.
The ban covers a 32-square-mile area, including West Adams, Baldwin Hills, and Leimert Park, for one year, with two possible six-month extensions.
A report released last year by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found 30 percent of children in South L.A. were obese, compared with 25 percent of all children in the city.
Instead of Handel focusing on why South L.A. has the highest concentration of fast-food restaurants, he chose to use the opportunity and the airwaves to chip away yet again at the image of Black women by referring to them as fat and Black airport screeners.
Now mind you, this is the same Bill Handel who takes issue with welfare mothers. Women who collect a government check and do not work, in particular Black women. I guess we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
You will get no argument from me on the numbers of Black women, men, and children who are clinically obese. I fell out of that category last year after shedding 75 pounds in nine months. But it wasn’t easy, because on those nights I wanted to grab something quick to eat, in my West Adams neighborhood, the choices for healthy cuisine were slim to none. In the end, I ate so much El Pollo Loco chicken, I should have bought stock in the company.
So the idea of a moratorium is a good thing, especially if it paves the way for more healthy eating in our neighborhoods.
What Bill Handel and people like him, either fail or refuse to recognize is that there is a reason why fast food appeals to so many people in South Los Angeles, it’s cost effective. With the economy in a nosedive, and more and more families struggling to maintain, it’s cheaper to buy a 10 piece chicken meal than to buy the same ingredients to make that meal at home. Add to that, when you are forced to work ten and twelve hour shifts in order to pay the bills, if given the choice between fixing dinner and having time spend with your family and rest before you’re out the door again, fast food starts to look better and better.
But just who controls the salaries and work schedules of many of the people living in South Los Angeles? Certainly not the fat Black ladies that Handel refers too. My guess is that they look more like Handel than me.
Handel’s comments are just the latest attack on Black women. An attack that is waged in the media and is so stealth at times, if you’re not paying attention you might just miss it. But with each attack, Americans feeds into the perception that all or most Black women are welfare queens, baby’s mommas, fat, poor, and uneducated, of which we are not.
But let me remind you, that if someone says anything even remotely derogatory on air about Jewish people, the gays, or White people, it’s off with their head. Well, what makes the sistas any different? Bill Handel’s comments about Black women should not be ignored or overlooked, because it’s those same types of comments that eventually become the “nappy headed ho” and “baby’s mama” comments.
In closing I’d like to tell Bill Handel personally that he can kiss my fat Black a**...two times!
Jasmyne Cannick n is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Ebony Magazine. A regular contributor to NPR’s ‘News and Notes’ and UrbanThoughtCollective.com <http://www.urbanthoughtcollective.com/>, she was chosen as one Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World. She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com or www.myspace.com/jasmynecannick.