What the Bleep Did I Just Let my (Black) Child Watch?

slave auctionI just accidentally showed my (black) child a cartoon about a slave auction and a master who whips runaway slaves. Yes, I did.

I could not believe my eyes. My four-year-old and I stumbled across the most racist cartoon ever made. This wasn’t some dark corner of the internet. This was a classic cartoon compilation DVD sold at Wal-Mart recently. Think Popeye and Steamboat Willy. Safe, right? Wrong.

This silent black and white (ha!) cartoon was made in the early 1930s. The characters are animals, but their races are apparent. I’m not going to name the cartoon or the DVD, because I don’t want to share it in any way. Let me just summarize some plot points for you:
• Lazy black (or blackface?) cartoon characters pick cotton
• A black girl dances happily
• The master whips the little girl when she tries to play with her white friend
• The white friend cries
• Chained-up black characters march in front of a sign that says “Slave Auction Today”
• The little girl happily dances on the auction block, even showing her bottom/underwear, while a crowd of men scream to buy her. (It says “auction block” right on the stage, so you can be sure.)
• A black mother washes her black baby in a washtub. She scrubs him so hard, he comes out white, and she screams. (I could be wrong about this one. This scene was actually the most confusing and disturbing part for me.)
• The blood hounds are released to chase the little girl, who now must somehow be a runaway slave. (It says “blood hounds” on their dog house, so you can be sure.)
• The slave master and the blood hounds join together to chase the runaway slave girl.
• The runaway slave girl runs to Uncle Tom’s cabin. (It says “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” right on his cabin, so you can be sure.)
• Uncle Tom is chained out front. The little girl says “Help”.

Happy but lazy slaves. Wow. Whipping. Chains. Auction block. Selling a little girl. Blood hounds.

I am a Southerner with roots in the Confederacy. How do I teach my white and black sons about that? I don’t know. But it sure as $%@!# isn’t going to be with this cartoon.

While I was sputtering and calling for my husband, my (black) son said, “I like this show.” To my son, I apologize. To the cartoon, may you burn in hell.

The Phrase “Upscale Resale” Makes Me Want to Gag

thrift store bragging

Everyone knows that I buy almost all my kids’ clothing used. The exceptions are underwear, socks, and sometimes jammies – but only because those are hard to find. I actually think it is kind of stupid to buy new clothes for kids (sorry), unless you can’t find what you need or it’s a special occasion. Like Easter- isn’t it good luck to have new clothes in Easter or something? Most of the time, kids outgrow clothes before they get all used up and pilled anyway, so it’s super easy to find good stuff.

Plus, I’m a little spoiled because people take pity on families with three boys in diapers and often donate bags of clothes. I consider that to be extremely generous, because they could have sold those clothes for money. It’s as if they donated money to my family.

When I was on bedrest and my 2-year-old was outgrowing his clothes, I panicked when I realized I couldn’t go to the thrift store like usual to get the next set. I was worried that I would have to buy all new clothes online or something. (Unless Mr. Okayest were to make a trip to the thrift store to pick out a season’s worth of toddler clothes, which he would be perfectly capable of doing, but somehow I just didn’t see that in his job description…) That’s when my friend Jen told me about something called online consignment. Holy cow, I had hit the jackpot. I didn’t even know something like that existed. You could buy used clothes online? Without using ebay? Sweeeeeeet.

I quickly realized that most of the online consignment places billed themselves as “Upscale Resale.” Gag! At the risk of quoting that awful John Stossel, give me a break. “Upscale Resale” seems to be infiltrating this market. The phrase “Upscale Resale” must have been invented by someone who was too embarrassed to shop at the thrift store. Most of these online shops bragged about their “flaw free” clothes, “zero imperfections”, and, of course, the Holy Grail of Nothing, “name brand children’s clothing.”

As a crazy mom of three children three and under, may I just say that I am super proud of myself if they are dressed at all?! Do you think I care if my kids’ clothes are “flaw free” and made by J.Crew? Do you think that “upscale resale” matters to me when there is always puke, pee, peas, or poop on every article of clothing at all times? An outfit lasts maybe an hour in this house.  Twins quadruple (not double!) the mess, because not only do I have two babies who make themselves dirty, but I also have two babies who smear mess on each other.

Or maybe I don’t care about name brand and “flaw free” because I was a teenager in the 90s, when girls could stay covered up in oversized thrift store flannel. That’s a blog post for another day.

And the prices? Well, if the Upscale Resale used shirt is $7.99 and shipping is at least $2.99, and I can get a similar shirt NEW at Target for $5, or used at the thrift store for $2, what is the better option here? Duh.

I have taken advantage of the online consignment to sell overflow and/or outgrown clothing, because they just mail you a prepaid mailer bag. You can stuff it and schedule a mail pickup, and it’s easy enough for even a mom like me to handle. However, most places don’t accept Wal-mart brands or even Target brands! When did used clothing become snobby?! Someday when my kids are in school and I am free to watch Teen Mom all day long, maybe I can sell the clothes myself at a proper consignment sale – where they accept regular old kids’ clothes. (Or, probably more appropriately, pass them on to another mom who is as overwhelmed as I am.)

Give me a real thrift store any day. I’ll take the clothes that smell like a stranger’s B.O. and have a few flaws. I’ll take Wal-mart brand. I’ll take the kind of clothes that need baking soda or vinegar and a couple heavy-duty washes to get the stink out. Downscale Resale for this family.  Hey, at least my kids are dressed, okay?