Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sarah Dubois, Setting the White Woman Battle Back Some Years

File:Sarah Dubois.jpgSarah Dubois.  I’m starting to have mixed feelings about her.  I used to be ambivalent, but now it’s growing towards dislike.  I suppose it doesn’t matter much if I dislike her.  She is, after all, just a cartoon character.

But there’s something about the way Sarah’s turning out that is a starting to irk me.  Let me tell you about Sarah.


For those of you who don’t know, The Boondocks centers around the Freeman family, 10 year-old Huey, his younger brother, Riley and their granddad, Granddad.  Granddad moved the family out of Chicago and into a  nice suburb, where they are practically the only black family.

The Dubois’s are the Freeman’s neighbors.   There’s the dad, Tom; he’s a DA and one of the other few black people in the neighborhood.  And he isn’t named ‘Tom’ for no reason.  Then there’s Tom’s wife, Sarah.  She's white.  She’s also very active in the NAACP and often talks about the great times she’s had at protests and marches and what-not.

Sarah’s always been a bit of a naive character, struggling to walk the fine line on which her activities and her marriage have placed her.  A counter-part to her mixed daughter who’s trying to do the same things but whose line is different enough that her mother can be of little help.  Sarah sometimes does ok.  Sometimes she makes mistakes, the same way any of us do when attempting to bridge a gap into a culture that’s not our own.  None of this really ever bothered me.  It seemed a fair, if sometimes painful, depiction.

But lately, during some episodes in Season 2 and the newest Season 3 episode aired this past Monday, Sarah’s character has gone way downhill.  No longer is she just the slightly-out-of-place white woman who’s struggling to find herself in her world.  Now, she is becoming “a white woman” in the said-with-disdain, predatory, despised-by-black-woman-everywhere sense. 

White women who’s main purpose in life is to steal black men away, to collect as many as they can, like trophies.  Forbidden trophies; forbidden, lustful, sexual trophies that desire their blonde hair as much as they desire dark flesh.  It’s a stereotype, and it’s a stereotype that I hate.  (Think I’m making this up?  Google “white woman”; the first thing that comes up is an article about why white women prefer black men.)

The trouble is, this depiction, this stereotype isn’t far fetched.   I know people like this.  Well, really I knew one person like this.  Her life seems to be one giant competition between herself and the rest of the world over who can snag the most black men.  She’s not even white.  But she’s not black either, so she might as well be white; it reflects on us.


For all the comments and criticisms I hear about the ‘bad’ stereotypical ways in which The Boondocks portrays Black People, I guess it’s only fair the show does the same to the White People.   Huey is the revolutionary; Riley’s the ghetto kid; Uncle Ruckus is the black guy who hates black people.  Sarah happens to be that certain kind of white woman.

The general depictions of white people on the show don’t bother me.  But as Sarah’s character depth increases, I find myself more and more…. offended, upset, distraught?  I don’t even know what.  Uncomfortable, that’s probably it.  Why?

My best guess is because I’m afraid of being associated with her.  The other white people, the general mass of white-suburbanites, I can easily distance myself from them.  They’re vague, and general and there’s many of them.  But Sarah, Sarah’s one person who happens to have a few things in common with me.  A few things does not equal everything.  I’m not like her.  I don’t want to be like her.  And more importantly, I don’t want people to think I’m like her. 

White woman syndrome is hard enough to shake off;  I don’t need a cartoon character making it even more difficult.

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