Friday, December 23, 2011

MC Hammer is Black

Due to my recent YouTube addiction (click here), last night my daughter and I were discussing music and pulling up videos on the XBOX. I do not remember exactly how we got to this part in the conversation, but my daughter made some comment about the white rapper MC Hammer. I laughed and she gave me a funny look. I thought she was making a joke that I was just not cool enough to get.

ME: Kirsten, MC Hammer is black.

KIRSTEN: No, he's not.

ME: Yes, yes, he is. You must have him confused with Vanilla Ice. (I figured since we were discussing music from before she was born, she must have switched some people.)

KIRSTEN: No, I don't. Vanilla Ice did ICE ICE BABY and the stupid song for that Turtles movie.

ME: (very impressed by the movie reference) I know who he is. So who are you talking about?

KIRSTEN: MC Hammer!!! You know! U CAN'T TOUCH THIS (she demonstrated the trade mark dance) He wore those ridiculous parachute pants.

ME: (impressed again) Well, that's the right guy, but he's black.

KIRSTEN: No, Dad, he's white. Why do you always lie to me? 

ME: Are you messing with me?

KIRSTEN: Never mind.

There were always questions
about Michael Jackson, but this guy
is definitely black.
Since most of our conversations end that way, I stopped trying. However, I did turn to the XBOX to find the video. As soon as his face hit the screen, she excitedly exclaimed, "Since when is MC Hammer black?" She even posted the question on Facebook. She sat and watched the entire video to confirm I was telling the truth. When it was over, I asked her, "So, who were you thinking of?" She replied, "It was him. I just thought he was white."

This conversation was the first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning. How did this happen? Have I failed as a parent? I have put forth great effort into exposing my kids to music and film that go beyond what the masses tell them to like. My daughter is a great lover of foreign cinema and independent films. My son once impressed the adults on a long bus trip when he knew all the words to the songs they were singing, despite the fact that most of them were popular twenty to forty years before he was born.

Kirsten's musical tastes include Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Blondie and the Beatles. She does listen to today's music as well, but it is groups like Hush Sound, Dresden Dolls, Clocktower Showdown and Bobby Birdman. You don't hear these groups on the radio. She has a very broad and eclectic musical taste. So, what happened here? If I have somehow missed this, what else might she be misinformed about?

Does she know that Garth Brooks and Chris Gaines are the same person? Did she miss the clues that 99 Red Balloons was an anti-nuclear arms song? Does she know the secret identity of Hannah Montana? Does she understand the connection between Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Beyoncé Knowles?

 Maybe, I am looking at this the wrong way. It could be that I have done a superb job of helping her to see past color and just recognize people. That would be a good thing. For most people, if they don't know who a rapper is, they would start with the assumption that he is black, but not my daughter. She doesn't stereotype people. However, I can see issues with this as well.

Would George Lopez still be funny if you didn't recognize he was Mexican? Chris Rock's career is based on his color. If he told those same jokes and my daughter thought he was white, would she find them racist? Where does she stand on the color of Martin Luther King? Would it make a difference? Can she tell the difference between Jamie Foxx and Jamie Farr? Or Will Smith and Wil Wheaton?

I believe I am making too much of this. I have a tendency to over think things. Plus, this one simplified itself for me later. When my daughter rolled out of bed at two in the afternoon and groggily slurred out "Good morning," I figured it out. I'm getting her tested. Maybe she's just not very bright.


  1. I started off laughing at this post, because hey, it's pretty freaking funny that your daughter knows the dance, but not that MC Hammer is black.

    Sure, she sleeps until 2 in the afternoon, but I think your kid sounds awesome - there is so much nonsense out there, the fact that she has such varied taste is cool, and says she has her own mind.

  2. Vesta, I was so happy to see your comment on here. I discovered your blog about a month ago and love reading it. Thank you for visiting.

    She is a great kid. She definitely has her own taste and does not care if anyone else shares it. She enjoys sharing her musical discoveries with others, but isn't upset if they don't share her taste. She knows what she likes and it's good enough for her.

  3. I think it's the pants. The pants kind of take over and make everything else fade away.

    1. That makes a lot of sense. You may be on to something, but I read your comment to Kirsten and she just rolled her eyes. Don't take it personally. I get that look all the time.

  4. It's ok. The other day we were discussing the difference between primary elections and caucuses. My daughter said that she knew what a caucus was.
    Daughter: "It's like a dead body. I saw a racoon caucus on the side of the highway yesterday."
    Me: {blink, blink, am I supposed to laugh or cry right now? blink, blink} "Bahahaha!"

    1. That is great. Some of those guys might do less damage if they were a caucus on the side of the road.

  5. Tell your daughter I thought he was white too, and until you had the photo above, I also thought you were messing with her. Maybe he used to be white . . .

    1. I will let her know. She'll be happy to know it is not just her.


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