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View Full Version : Is naming a black dog Obama racist?


SomeBodyUK
09-18-2010, 09:23 PM
A work colleague of mine showed me the photos of her family pets, which she had placed in her cubicle. Each photo had the pets' name underneath it.

One of them photos was of a black dog, and it was called Obama. I said to her she should remove the name in case some people get offended - do you think I did the wrong thing?

The thing is, her father really did name the dog Obama because it's black. My colleague is Chinese, her father lives in Shanghai and the dog is in Shanghai too. She said she could make up a cover story where her father named the dog Obama because heís a fan of the president. I told her I donít think that would fly with some people.

What would you guys do in a similar situation?

Damuri Ajashi
09-18-2010, 09:35 PM
If she's got a picture of a pile of shit named Bush, I don't think anyone would get offended by the picture of the dog.

USCDiver
09-18-2010, 09:36 PM
We had a black cat named Maynard Jackson when I was growing up.

Bryan Ekers
09-18-2010, 09:37 PM
What would you guys do in a similar situation?

Chuckle mildly and not even have it cross my mind to offer a warning about vapid political correctness.

SomeBodyUK
09-18-2010, 09:40 PM
She's a nice person, I just don't want people giving her shit for it.

A while ago a white collegaue wondered out loud if she was a racist for coming in to work on Martin Luther King day.

Bryan Ekers
09-18-2010, 09:44 PM
Y'know, if I worked in a company with that many clueless people, I'd be cheerfully embezzling my way to an early retirement.

Mozart1220
09-18-2010, 09:46 PM
If she's got a picture of a pile of shit named Bush, I don't think anyone would get offended by the picture of the dog.

I think only shit would be offended.

Joey P
09-18-2010, 09:54 PM
Considering the First Family has a black dog (http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,25856,26276,26515&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=bo+obama&cp=4&safe=off&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=1366&bih=585), I wouldn't be too concerned. If someone would be offended by it she could simply say she thinks it looks like Bo.

Of course, if she named it Obama because it's the same color as Barack Obama, then, yeah, maybe not advertise that.

dzero
09-18-2010, 10:09 PM
Just tell her it's technically inaccurate since BHO is mulatto and not negro, therefore the name doesn't make any sense.

Many people will interpret it as racist even if from her point of view it isn't. So I would try to discourage her without using perceived racism as your main argument.

magellan01
09-18-2010, 10:31 PM
I don't know if her dad did it for racist reasons, but if someone wanted to attack her on it she'd have a hard time defending it. Even though the person attacking her would be a schmuck.

Related question I was wondering about from something else I read: is any and every depiction/caricature of Obama as a monkey necessarily racist? I don't think so, as people are often insulted by being monkey-like as a commentary on their perceived stupidity or cluelessness. Bush was the Chimp. We have "a thousand monkeys typing", etc.

marshmallow
09-18-2010, 10:44 PM
Can you name a white dog Obama and not be racist? Can you name any dog Obama and not be racist? Is Obama racist against dogs?

monstro
09-18-2010, 11:14 PM
We had a black cat named Maynard Jackson when I was growing up.

Which is just crazy since Maynard Jackson was quite light-skinned, even lighter than Obama. We might as well call a black cat "George Hamilton" if we're going to go that route.

It's like naming a parrot "Bette Midler" because the bird's got a beak like a "Jewish" nose. Yeah, that's maybe funny for two seconds and then it's just juvenile.

Boyo Jim
09-18-2010, 11:37 PM
Is the dog Kenyan?

elelle
09-18-2010, 11:53 PM
OK, so the dog is in China, and we don't really know the true context of "Obama" as the name. Black Dog= US President, Good Luck for breaking race barriers, or Black Dog=Bad Running Dog Capitalist plus Darkie to Boot, or, and here's the dark horse nasty kicker: Black Dog that will be dinner come winter, to use a harsh judgement of possibility in Chinese culture.

I'd ask the coworker what her Dad really meant by it, and discuss the social difference before interfering with her cubicle space.

monstro's reply is pretty damn fine for distinction.

Diogenes the Cynic
09-19-2010, 12:17 AM
Related question I was wondering about from something else I read: is any and every depiction/caricature of Obama as a monkey necessarily racist?
Yes
I don't think so, as people are often insulted by being monkey-like as a commentary on their perceived stupidity or cluelessness. Bush was the Chimp. We have "a thousand monkeys typing", etc.
Bush was compared to a chimp because he looked like one. It was not a comment on his race, it was a comment (admittedly an unkind one) on his actual physical appearance. With Obama, it's only because of his race and nothing else. He does not have a simian appearance, nor does he exhibit stupidity or cluelessness.

elelle
09-19-2010, 12:18 AM
I don't know if her dad did it for racist reasons, but if someone wanted to attack her on it she'd have a hard time defending it. Even though the person attacking her would be a schmuck.

Related question I was wondering about from something else I read: is any and every depiction/caricature of Obama as a monkey necessarily racist? I don't think so, as people are often insulted by being monkey-like as a commentary on their perceived stupidity or cluelessness. Bush was the Chimp. We have "a thousand monkeys typing", etc.

Oh, and, magellan, yes, characterizing a Black person as monkeylike in the US is offensive, because there is a looooonnggg history of that being used as a derogatory stereotype to separate and deny a sector of citizens their rights based on a misuse of physical features as a judgement of capacity.

Bush's physical characteristics often looked rather chimpish, so he got the butt of jokes; however, he was born into the above-it-all class, and the physical comparison wasn't at all anything that would impede him, or his family, to any detriment.

Diogenes the Cynic
09-19-2010, 12:20 AM
By the way, the answer to he OP is that it depends on the intent of the namer. Someone could easily name a dog Obama without any racist or malicious intent. Someone else could think it was the height of hilarity to do it because the dog is black. Either way, it's pretty harmless, though it could lead to some uncomfortable moments.

EVERYNAMEISTAKEN
09-19-2010, 12:24 AM
I don't think anyone would be offended by that. It could be looked at as being supportive of the president, even.

E72521
09-19-2010, 12:57 AM
By the way, the answer to he OP is that it depends on the intent of the namer. Someone could easily name a dog Obama without any racist or malicious intent. Someone else could think it was the height of hilarity to do it because the dog is black. Either way, it's pretty harmless, though it could lead to some uncomfortable moments.

Back in the 60's, my dad brought home a yellow-eyed all black kitten and named him Sambo. Growing up in what was then the all white San Fernando Valley, I never realized it was racist until Junior High. Yeah, my dad was dick at times.

OTOH, a few years ago we named our dachshund puppy Anne Frankfurter, because we thought it was cute and clever, with no ill will towards Dutch Jews.

Magiver
09-19-2010, 01:20 AM
One of them photos was of a black dog, and it was called Obama. I said to her she should remove the name in case some people get offended - do you think I did the wrong Was the dog neutered? If so there needs to be a little yappy dog named Jesse Jackson.

panache45
09-19-2010, 03:35 AM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.

magellan01
09-19-2010, 04:00 AM
Related question I was wondering about from something else I read: is any and every depiction/caricature of Obama as a monkey necessarily racist?
Yes
I don't think so, as people are often insulted by being monkey-like as a commentary on their perceived stupidity or cluelessness. Bush was the Chimp. We have "a thousand monkeys typing", etc.
Bush was compared to a chimp because he looked like one. It was not a comment on his race, it was a comment (admittedly an unkind one) on his actual physical appearance. With Obama, it's only because of his race and nothing else. He does not have a simian appearance, nor does he exhibit stupidity or cluelessness.

Makes sense. I'll go with that. But if we were talking about a black person that did look chimpish are ape-ish, would that allow that the caricature would not necessarily be racist.

Simplicio
09-19-2010, 08:03 AM
Makes sense. I'll go with that. But if we were talking about a black person that did look chimpish are ape-ish, would that allow that the caricature would not necessarily be racist.

I think most people would still perceive it as racist. The person making the caricature might not mean it to be racist, but given the context and the strong association of black people charactatured as monkeys with racism in this country, most people are going to think its a racist attack. The point of communication is what other people think you mean after all, not what deep down inside you really mean.

ETA: By the same token, I think the OP was right to warn off his co-worker. Coming from China, she might not realize the context her dogs name is going to be taken in, but thats not going to stop people from taking it in that context.

don't ask
09-19-2010, 08:28 AM
Probably less than calling Obama a black dog.

Richard Pearse
09-19-2010, 09:43 AM
Bravo!

Markxxx
09-19-2010, 10:12 AM
You could name it "Mr Obama" and that would tone it down a lot. Remember how on the Dick Van Dyke Show, Sally had a cat named, "Mr Henderson."

foolsguinea
09-19-2010, 10:17 AM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.Pfft. She should have said he was named after a war hero. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigger_(dog))

I don't think naming a black dog Obama (or a yellow cat Tse-tung, or a white cat Pik) is necessarily offensive. But what do I know?

I wanted to name a pair of black kittens 'Sambo' &, iirc, 'Negro' as litter names once. My mother overruled me & called them Bruno & Martin. Well, they were her cat's kittens, so not so much overruled as refused to take my stupid suggestions.

Mozart1220
09-19-2010, 11:06 AM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.

You must really get around, because I heard that story from a friend of my brother's, except he spoke of a man who did this.

Chronos
09-19-2010, 11:26 AM
I think that, if anyone questions her on it, all she need say is that her father named the dog, not she. Was it racist of the father to name the dog that? Likely. Was it a particularly bad or dangerous instance of racism? Probably not. Does it reflect on her what her father named a dog? No.

WhyNot
09-19-2010, 11:47 AM
Just tell her it's technically inaccurate since BHO is mulatto and not negro, therefore the name doesn't make any sense.

So, a Dalmatian named Obama would be ok? :D

Anduril
09-19-2010, 11:51 AM
With Obama, it's only because of his race and nothing else. He does not have a simian appearance, nor does he exhibit stupidity or cluelessness.

Well, to me at least, he does look like a chimp and he does exhibit stupidity and cluelessness. Why should it be racist to call Obama a chimp if calling Bush the same name is NOT racist?

John Mace
09-19-2010, 12:03 PM
She's a nice person, I just don't want people giving her shit for it.
Unless you're her older brother, I'd say let her deal with that.

A while ago a white collegaue wondered out loud if she was a racist for coming in to work on Martin Luther King day.
Well, that person was being an idiot. I don't know if we can save our friends from comments made by idiots.

DMC
09-19-2010, 12:08 PM
Well, to me at least, he does look like a chimp and he does exhibit stupidity and cluelessness. Why should it be racist to call Obama a chimp if calling Bush the same name is NOT racist?For the same reason that calling Obama a "Porch Monkey" is racist, while calling Bush the same would just get you curious looks, but you knew that already.

Magiver
09-19-2010, 01:08 PM
In the OMG must share category, I just saw a Chia Obama on TV.

Blank Slate
09-19-2010, 02:07 PM
It's the workplace. Pet pics serve no business function. It might be offensive to some, and that's enough. She should take it down.

Guinastasia
09-19-2010, 02:44 PM
Probably less than calling Obama a black dog.

Hey Obama gonna make you move
Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove

:p (Sorry, that was the first thing that popped into my head)

gonzomax
09-19-2010, 02:48 PM
Unless it is a Kenyan Water Dog, it is racist.

ricksummon
09-19-2010, 02:54 PM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.

Was her last name, by any chance, de la Poer? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rats_in_the_Walls) :D

Anduril
09-19-2010, 06:22 PM
Well, to me at least, he does look like a chimp and he does exhibit stupidity and cluelessness. Why should it be racist to call Obama a chimp if calling Bush the same name is NOT racist?For the same reason that calling Obama a "Porch Monkey" is racist, while calling Bush the same would just get you curious looks, but you knew that already.


No, I don't know that already so please explain. I'm not American so I'm not all that familiar with the subtext. My position right now is "what's good for the goose should be good for the gander" unless I'm missing something. (I'm not feigning ignorance here)

Chronos
09-19-2010, 06:57 PM
Except that what the goose got here is centuries of slavery, legally-enforced discrimination, and a festering racism that persists to this day. Unfortunately, it's not possible to just pretend that all that never happened. Hopefully someday we'll be far enough past that that it'll be acceptable to compare politicians of any race to monkeys, but we're not there yet.

Simplicio
09-19-2010, 07:20 PM
No, I don't know that already so please explain. I'm not American so I'm not all that familiar with the subtext. My position right now is "what's good for the goose should be good for the gander" unless I'm missing something. (I'm not feigning ignorance here)

Segregation and the Civil Rights movement is still easily within living memory here, and people remain very sensitive of symbols from the time period that were used to make blacks appear simple and sub-human. Blacks as monkey imagery was (and still is in certain unsavory parts) popular amongst racists to taunt blacks for being "less evolved" and the association of blacks charicatured as monkeys with racists is strong enough that even if you're legitimately trying to make fun of some other aspect of a black persons persona, people are going to assume that you're aware of the racist overtones and that thats at least part of the idea your trying to communicate.

Its sorta like if you drew a charactature of Bernie Madoff with a comically long nose and have him hugging a bag of money. The guy does have a decent sized nose, and he certainly liked money, but its impossible not to read such a cartoon as anti-semetic simply because so many similar cartoons of Jews were used by anti-semites prior to WWII.

Anduril
09-19-2010, 08:30 PM
Gotcha! Thanks.

even sven
09-19-2010, 08:32 PM
It may not be racist, but it's something that doesn't translate across cultures well and probably doesn't belong in the workplace. From my experiences in China, I can say discourse about race is a very different thing there. It's a much less diverse society, and I think people have less experience with the need to be sensitive to these things.

My position right now is "what's good for the goose should be good for the gander" unless I'm missing something. (I'm not feigning ignorance here)

If you think about it, this doesn't make sense. If I called my female boss a "castrating bitch" it'd be a grave insult. If I called my male boss that, it'd be so baffling that it'd probably end up being amusing

Enuma Elish
09-19-2010, 09:19 PM
When you are elected President of the United States, you immediately give up any possibility of being insulted by anyone naming their dog after you. In fact, if no-one ever named their dog after you this would be an indication that you were a complete loser as a president because you never held any views or established any policies that offended anyone.

Consider it a badge of honor and STOP BEING SO HYPERSENSITIVE! I may not agree with President Obama on everything, but he IS my president and he can take every bit as much shit as every other president.

t-bonham@scc.net
09-20-2010, 07:22 PM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.

You must really get around, because I heard that story from a friend of my brother's, except he spoke of a man who did this.It's a pretty old 'urban legend'.

And it's just plain inaccurate, anyway. Dogs (and other animals) do not understand the specific words used, but go by tone & syllables and recognition of the voice. So if this person had gone around the neighborhood calling "dog-gie!" instead of "nig-ger!", the dog would have responded just as well.

bubba jr
09-21-2010, 12:27 AM
With Obama, it's only because of his race and nothing else. He does not have a simian appearance, nor does he exhibit stupidity or cluelessness.

Well, to me at least, he does look like a chimp and he does exhibit stupidity and cluelessness. Why should it be racist to call Obama a chimp if calling Bush the same name is NOT racist?

Because RACISM is over. We have a self proclaimed "black" president(he's really a mixed breed mutt like most of us americans), so now we all have to tiptoe around any little bit of possibly inferred racism like it was a nuclear bomb on a hair trigger.

When we all called Bush a monkey, it was funny, I've even got a copy of clueless george goes to war, 'Curious George'. No problem there, and I've never seen a white monkey.

So clueless George #2 comes along, why can't we call him a monkey? he's at least the right color. He's got big monkey ears, he speaks much better but still spews the same BS out of his mouth.

To the OP, ITS THE NAME OF A DOG!! How can the name of a dog be racist. If the namer of the BLACK dog was BLACK it would be OK right?

I named my dog Ginger because of her color, pink nose, pink lips and skin, orange hair, and she might be tasty in a ginger sauce if I was so inclined. Does that mean I hate red heads? Or is that OK because I'm a red head? Or is that all thrown out the window because it doesn't matter because I'm white???

When does this "racist" hypersensitivity stop? A BLACK, colored, negro etc.... man was voted president of the United States of America, the most powerful man in the free world!!!!!!!

What the f**k more do you want? What more proof do you need that skin color just doesn't matter?

Apparently now we have to be careful how we name our dogs based on their fur color, and the skin color of the person naming the dog. Maybe I should take the OP to task since I've been chewed here for mentioning that someone was a Mexican. But I guess mentioning stereotypically successful races and their behavior is OK.

If you really want something racist, besides the name of a dog with black hair, here...

Q: What would George Washington say if he was alive today?

A: If I had known it was going to be this bad, I would have picked the cotton myself.

That right there is racist. Naming a black furred dog after a president/admired person is not.

t-bonham@scc.net
09-21-2010, 01:02 PM
When we all called Bush a monkey, it was funny, I've even got a copy of clueless george goes to war, 'Curious George'. No problem there, and I've never seen a white monkey.Here's a picture for you! (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_DW3Bp12L7YI/SWd1ofVphhI/AAAAAAAASgk/ls7JWFDVtkI/s400/albino-monkey.jpg&imgrefurl=http://stranges-world.blogspot.com/2009/01/amazing-rare-white-animals.html&h=400&w=400&sz=27&tbnid=ItrCmbhBeF4hXM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dalbino%2Bmonkey%2Bpicture&zoom=1&q=albino+monkey+picture&usg=__2MfSdbZjx0X1yo9Ubyx_sdyMtrY=&sa=X&ei=y_KYTODlFNXhnQfUqujcDw&ved=0CCIQ9QEwBg)

Mozart1220
09-21-2010, 05:00 PM
You must really get around, because I heard that story from a friend of my brother's, except he spoke of a man who did this.It's a pretty old 'urban legend'.

And it's just plain inaccurate, anyway. Dogs (and other animals) do not understand the specific words used, but go by tone & syllables and recognition of the voice. So if this person had gone around the neighborhood calling "dog-gie!" instead of "nig-ger!", the dog would have responded just as well.

Which is pretty much what I was a sayin'

panache45
09-21-2010, 05:17 PM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.

You must really get around, because I heard that story from a friend of my brother's, except he spoke of a man who did this.

This was a girl who went to Ohio State in 1968.

Mozart1220
09-21-2010, 05:52 PM
You must really get around, because I heard that story from a friend of my brother's, except he spoke of a man who did this.

This was a girl who went to Ohio State in 1968.

Well, that proves it's true then. Case closed.


I guess my question to the OP would be, why would you name a dog "Obama" in the first place unless it was meant as an insult of some sort to the president racist or not?

Gala Matrix Fire
09-25-2010, 03:21 PM
"Nigger" was a pretty common name for dogs until about the 1970s. I hope that's not the part of the anecdote that is in doubt.

whereismymind
09-26-2010, 04:50 PM
hahaha. I think it's great. Who cares if she gets shit for it? I bet she can handle herself. Ask her.

Hilarity N. Suze
09-26-2010, 06:07 PM
We named a cat after a president. He's an alley cat (well, actually I think he is a very valuable cat, and I'm sorry for whoever let him get away). Hail to The Chief! How disrespectful was that?

Hilarity N. Suze
09-26-2010, 06:16 PM
One of my college housemates in the 60s had a big black dog named "Nigger." The dog managed to get outside, and the girl was too embarrassed to go out yelling the dog's name. She never saw it again.

I once rode to glory (barrel racing) on a horse with the same name, also in the '60s. His owner had broken her ankle but she wanted him to compete. Even then, in redneck country, she got some flack for that name, as she should have. WHY did she name him that? Because of an old book she read as a kid, called Nigger and Nine Lives, about a horse and a cat. (I assume the cat was "nine lives.") That's what she said; I never heard of that book.

Mozart1220
09-26-2010, 10:10 PM
"Nigger" was a pretty common name for dogs until about the 1970s. I hope that's not the part of the anecdote that is in doubt.

Funny, I lived in an all white small town, and I never actually knew anyone who named their dog that. It was always a story about someone else.

And why name a dog "Obama" anyway if you had even 1% respect for the man, no matter what color he is?