Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nike, Bill O'Reilly, and race

Nike designed a shoe especially for Native Americans. Tribal communities may purchase the shoe at wholesale (Air Native N7).
Recently, Bill O'Reilly raised eyebrows by speaking about a recent experience at a restaurant in Harlem, in which he said it was a similar experience to any other restaurant, there was nothing different about it, even though it was run by blacks.
Awareness of race is not the same thing as racism, and being color-blind is not ideal. Different cultures have different values, and acknowledging that is good. I think I understand where Bill O'Reilly is coming from. If you do think black people are different from yourself, you may expect your experience at the restaurant to be different. If you think everyone is the same, then of course his statement provokes a "duh" reaction.
Do Native Americans need a specially designed shoe to encourage them to exercise? Supposedly, the "average" native foot is shaped a bit differently. So a special shoe may indeed be called for. But it is surprising that in a large group of diverse tribes, the same specially designed show will fit. And looking at it, why white? White gets so dirty. But if it enhances and promotes physical activity, good. And for people who are racist, Bill O'Reilly's statement may make them rethink their position. So overall, I think both statements are positive.
Currently, I'm thinking about race and health care. Minorities, including blacks, hispanics, and asians, on average die at higher rates, get less time with their physicians, and are referred for fewer preventative health measures such as mammograms, even when correcting for insurance, economics, and education. Not to mention, as a group hispanics are much less likely to be insured, and so receive inadequate health care. Interestingly, physicians are more likely to ask minorities about alcohol consumption. Awareness of bias is the first step to removing it.

1 comment:

Gayathri said...

To me, Bill O Reilly's statement does sound negative! Maybe its because of my lack of tolerance for him and his show. Nevertheless, I am not exactly sure he was trying to 'convince' his viewers that black are no different.