Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Subtle Bigotry: Hockey Mom

We've heard about the racism that the McCain campaign has stirred up, but few people have addressed when it started. I believe that it started as soon as Sarah Palin was named as his running mate. Specifically, the first time she claimed that she was "just one of [us]" and a "hockey mom."

Why is that racist? To answer that question we have to look at who hockey moms are. So, that's just what I did.

Luckily, I already had an idea of who they were, at least in this area. For a few years I helped my brother-in-law with his little league photography business. Among his clients were a few of the local hockey leagues. He also had football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and wrestling leagues for clients. He worked in communities on all ends of the income spectrum. As far as Northern New Jersey is concerned, I know the sports demographics well.

From this I tell you that hockey moms are earlier risers, able to tolerate prolonged periods in freezing temperatures, financially comfortable, SUV drivers, and as white as possible. Don't take my word for it, here is what MinnPost's Jay Weiner had to say about it:

[T]he sport is predominantly Caucasian and, of course, extremely Northern in its geography. Among hockey, soccer and basketball, those who participate in hockey have the highest household income of $80,540. It's a more affluent sport and, perhaps, more Republican, although Minnesota hockey has a blue-collar strain to it.

Slate's income numbers are different, but they tell the same story:

[T]hey're almost certain to be largely Caucasian. Just 2 percent of National Hockey League players are black, despite the work of a "diversity task force" for both the professional and youth leagues. (The task force has held special camps in Wasilla, Alaska.) USA Hockey claims hockey-playing households earn nearly twice the U.S. average, with a median income of $99,200. According to polling by the Pew Research Center, a slice of registered voters that might be roughly equivalent to hockey moms—comprising white married women with kids under 18, incomes over $75,000 and living in the prime hockey-playing regions

If you read the full stories accompanying those quotes you will start to realize who the "us" is that Palin is one of. It doesn't encompass people of color. Nor does it include the poor, actually it mostly excludes the middle class. It does include someone who can afford thousands of dollars every year for their child to play a sport. Very few hockey moms are worried about how they're going to afford their next meal.

When Sarah Palin says that she is one of "us" and that Barack Obama isn't, in the same breath that she claims to just be a hockey mom, she is making a classist and racist statement. She is saying that we can't let a non-white person who had to work their way through school into the White House. She is professing her disgust for someone who would waste their time as a community organizer in low income areas.

It is a subtle attack, but one that should not be overlooked. At the very least, not anymore. Once her attacks became more overt, and her attempts to provoke a passionate racist reaction became more obvious, we had to look at just how deeply this runs in the campaign. It isn't merely a ploy that started a week or two ago, it's built right into the VP pick.


Karenann said...

Don't I get credit for pointing this out to you? Sheesh...

Dan said...

I don't remember exactly what part(s) you pointed out, but you did get me thinking about the subject. A thread about pudding boobs finally inspired me to put it together and write it. So you and pudding boobs can share the credit.

Anonymous said...

Pudding boobs? I worry about you.

Karenann said...

not sure why that was anonymous.