"Fox & Friends" presented a black child dressed as a watermelon for Halloween.
It could just be an instance of a horrible oversight but considering the Fox channel’s penchant for racist overtures, probably not.
During the show’s Halloween costume segment, President Donald Trump’s favorite “news” channel showed off some cute costume ideas for Halloween 2017. While white kids were dressed as rainbows and robots, a black boy was forced into a watermelon costume.
“Now we’re going to have some organic fruit,” one presenter said. “Lucas is our watermelon!”
But what does watermelon have to do with race?
The stereotype that African Americans are overly fond of watermelon (like chicken and corn) originated from a historical reference dating back to the Civil War. When slaves won emancipation during the war, free black people grew, ate and sold watermelons and made it a symbol of their freedom. The white Southerners felt threatened by the African Americans’ freedom and responded by branding the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness and feeblemindedness.
The racist trope then became so popular in America that its historical reason almost disappeared. Since the racial meaning of a watermelon is so murky, it is easy for mainstream media to exonerate themselves from racism.
In the aftermath of Fox’s segment, the Twitterverse lambasted the segment saying the faux pas was just too obvious to be accidental.
POC are neither surprised nor amused by Faux News racism with a wink reporting. No wonder??tunes in regularly. https://t.co/AUbFUkp6BL— Lars Hurst (@larshurst) October 22, 2017
While the racist video is getting a lot of negative attention, it is just one of the latest disturbing situations at Fox News. During the weekend, The New York Times revealed the channel renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract despite the fact that the ex-host was accused of sexual harassment a few months ago and had to issue a $32 million payout. Meanwhile, the alleged sexual predator appeared multiple times on other shows to give commentary.
The African-American community has been the butt of watermelon jokes for years.
The Boston Herald and its cartoonist apologized in 2014 after it drew criticism for a racist caricature in which a White House intruder recommended a watermelon-flavored toothpaste to then-president Obama.
Activists protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Rosebud, Missouri, were confronted with malt liquor, fried chicken, the Confederate flag and watermelon.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters/Stringer