Yesterday I saw a news item that made me smile. Kurtis Taylor, a former defensive lineman for the Iowa State Cyclones (my alma mater), had won a competition to be the new face of Ken. For those of you that don’t know, Barbie and Ken apparently broke up a few years ago, and it has recently been announced that they would be getting back together. Mattel staged an online “Genuine Ken” competition. Taylor apparently sewed up the competition during the romantic category portion. Each contestant was given $500 to buy gifts. Mr. Taylor gave a penny to each of the judges and donated the rest to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. If you watch the videos, Mr. Taylor comes across as handsome, intelligent, sincere, and compassionate.
So it was to my distress that I came across the following story today. To be honest, the story in itself was a good, short recap of the competition and description of Mr. Taylor. But for some reason, I broke my rule of reading comments on internet sites (good, well written blogs excluded). What I saw ranged from prejudiced to outright racist. To add to how disturbed I was by this, many of the most outrageous comments had more “likes” than “dislikes”.
Is this what we have come to America? Perhaps hiding behind the anonymity of the internet makes one more brazen. Regardless, these seem to be honest sentimentes of hate none-the-less. Even if these poor souls wouldn’t spew this crap in public, apparently it is how they feel in their heart. I do suspect that a few were just trying to be “funny”. They aren’t.
When I was a student at Iowa State, the students overwhelmingly voted to change the name of Cyclone Stadium to Jack Trice Stadium. Jack Trice was Iowa State’s first African-American athlete, who died after being trampled in his first football game versus the University of Minnesota. You can read more about Mr. Trice’s story here. To this day, JTS is the only NCAA Division I football stadium to be named after an African-American, a fact of which Cyclone Fans are intensely proud.
Here in my home town, one of the most recently opened elementary schools was named after Rosa Parks. Being in our district, it is in fact the school that our children will attend. What a wonderful role model to teach our children about.
So I guess I was naive to think that regarding race we have been making forward progress in our country. The majority of young people I meet do not harbor the same kind of thoughts as the commentors after the article. But those very sickening comments seem to make me think that there is a silent undercurrent that could still sweep away progress, and it saddens me. If nothing else, it has steeled my resolve to redouble my efforts to raise my children to be respectful, responsible, and compassionate citizens.
One more thing–the first time that I see a Kurtis Taylor modeled Ken doll on the shelves, I will be purchasing it for my children.
What is your reaction?