Late last night I published a post titled after the song "California, Here I Come", a story about how often I have moved in my life. Part of the story involved a time where my brother and I constantly sang this song in the car as our family headed out to California to live.
At the end of the post I embedded a video clip from YouTube with Al Jolson singing the song, which he made famous in the movie "Bombo". According to Wikipedia, this song is often considered the unoffical state song of California. To me the song is simply a reminder of a family trip and the lyrics have very strong emotional meaning, particularly now since I am finally moving home to the state I love, California.
I have removed the video and my reasons for doing so follow.
I received a very short and terse e-mail from someone regarding this video stating that they were highly offended at the video of a white man dressed in black face and considered it insulting to the African-American community. They then went on to state that they assumed I didn't know this was insulting because they couldn't believe I would intentionally post that video without regard to my readers.
This person was correct, I would NEVER intentionally post anything offensive to my readers or anyone else. Therefore, I HAVE REMOVED THE VIDEO. However, I feel it necessary to respond to this person's comment because it was an entire misreading of my post and my intentions when I posted the video at the bottom.
First, to assume I was unaware of this particular issue is tantamount to calling me uninformed and unintelligent. I am neither, nor am I insensitive to the issues of discrimination and the struggles of those discriminated against in any form. I only saw this video as a simple piece of film history that had the original version I remember of the song "California Here I Come." and I was possibly naive in believing that all my readers would view it in that context alone.
Second, if you read the post you will see it has to do with my life of constantly moving and it is a nostalgic memoir of my life's trials and tribulations of forever changing homes. Moving is said to be one of the most psychologically stressful events that can occur in a person's life. It's right up there with death of a loved one and serious illness on the stress scale. My post was a celebration of ending my gypsy life and finally getting to go home, the video a way of sharing the song "California, Here I Come" in retro style. Nothing more.
Al Jolson's version of "California Here I Come" was the version I heard as a child. I didn't think of it being offensive to anyone, just the first version of that song I ever heard. It was never my intention to insult any community, I was simply posting the original version of a song I heard in my childhood that became part of a fond memory of a family trip.
Let me repeat, posting the video was not meant to insult anyone, nor was it meant to demean anyone. I most definitely did not post it to offend. That movie clip is part of film history and since my blog is a retro pop culture blog and the post involved that particular song I chose to post it instead of more contemporary versions available. I believed that my readers would see the video as a retro musical moment that spoke to my post about moving home and enjoy the clip from that perspective and not as an insult to any person, race or culture.
I have removed the video because I never want to hurt or offend any of my blog visitors, but I do not apologize for posting the video in the first place because my intent was not to offend but to share the lyrics which have an emotional meaning for me, particularly at this point in my life. I do apologize to anyone that was inadvertently insulted and I am sorry if anyone who read the post took offense where none was intended.
Unfortunately, because of that e-mail I have lost a fond memory that is now tainted with an ugly accusation I believe I did not deserve.
Please read on because I think this is important to us all.
I believe it is time to stop using the big club of political correctness to bully others into doing what we want, to create guilt and to assign responsibility where it does not belong. Maybe posting that video was politically incorrect, but frankly, I am sick to death of "politically incorrect".
Political correctness is just that, political. Political correctness is not the best tool for social change. It does not mean you are changing people's attitudes, you are just stopping them from voicing those attitudes because they are not popular. This does not change the way people think and that is what we need to do, change the way people think.
Don't you believe it's time that we all moved away from the past and looked to the future? We cannot do that if we cannot let go of old offenses, especially ones created by people long gone and buried along with their damaging political and sociological views.
We cannot remove history, we cannot avoid it and we cannot pretend it didn't happen. What we can do is see the mistakes and wrong attitudes of the past for the uninformed, inhumane and incorrect views they were and, hopefully, learn from those mistakes to create a better world for us all.
I welcome all your views and sentiments on this post. I am willing and open to all comments that are informed, intelligent and thoughtful without anger or accusations. It is time for anger and accusations to end and thought provoking conversation to begin - then maybe we can change the world.