This is going to sound racist at first, but hear me out:

You know how black people raged for years on what white people should call them?  First it was “Don’t call me Negro” then “Don’t call me Black” and often it turned into various other words and phrases that signify some sort of racist attitude like “Don’t call me Boy”.  Eventually, though, the community just sort of embraced the whole notion.  And by embracing these words and stereotypes, the group solidified itself.  There’s a reason it’s called the “black community”.

The same thing happened with the gay community.  There was a time not too long ago when gays hid from the rest of society (“in the closet” used to have a much more negative connotation than it does today).  Then they embraced the whole notion, and the gay lifestyle solidified into something much more tangible.

While embracing derogatory statements and stereotypes in order to solidify a downtrodden community can be a very powerful and positive thing, it can also lead to negative outcomes.  And frankly, this is what I think has actually happened to America.

One of the main talking points of just about anyone who talks is that “we’re not what we used to be”.  And although every generation says this about the one that comes after it, I think we’ve heard it a lot more over the last decade.  And we’re not just hearing it from cranky ole cusses who spend too much time whittling – statistics are telling us.  Comparatively, the USA is dumber and sicker than we’ve ever been.  Yet our confidence has never been higher.  Why?  Because we’ve embraced ourselves.

This used to be a circus freak show, now it's the reason Wal-Mart had to widen their isles.

As a country, we’ve been told by other countries that we’re fat, lazy, and close-minded.  We were told it so often that eventually, like the communities mentioned above, that we embraced it – almost like the wife who’s husband keeps telling her she’s fat, we say, “I’ll show him fat!”  And by embracing it, we’ve done two things, one good and one bad:

  1. We’ve empowered ourselves to not be ashamed of who we are; this is good.  Much like the black community embraced themselves (“some of us really do like fried chicken”) and the gay community embraced themselves (“some of us really are flamboyant”) we made it OK to be American.
  2. We’ve embraced all of the stereotypes, not just the benign ones.  Imagine if the black community embraced all the negative stereotypes and collectively said, “It’s OK to be lazy” or if the gay community said, “It’s OK to recruit little boys.”  That wouldn’t fly – not in their communities, not in the community at large.  But as Americans, we have done this.  There are an overwhelming number of people who absolutely embrace their obesity, their lethargy, and their stupidity.

By embracing all stereotypes, we’ve embraced the negative ones as well.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take a nap; I’m tired from Burger King and Jersey Shore.


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