The Paranoia of Diversity

Overheard between white customers and a white cook at the local BBQ and hotdog stand:

“We are all equal, so why did State Farm have to replace white Jake with a black Jake?”

“Yeah, I don’t see why they have to make decisions based on percentages—so many black faces for so many white ones. That’s not right!”

“They fired that guy just so they could replace him with a black guy.”

To be fair, this restaurant, which is really nothing more than a shack, has the best ribs and hotdogs in town. It does, however, also have a fake $100 dollar bill with Trump’s photo in place of Benjamin Franklin’s face decorating the bathroom door, and red MAGA hats are for sale. I ignore these things because the cooks are generally nice elderly guys, polite and “just a little misguided” from my perspective. But this conversation caught my attention.

I haven’t watched commercial television since my son-in-law converted our viewing system to streaming platforms, so I haven’t seen the new State Farm commercials. Although I do remember finding chubby white Jake’s bit humorous, I can’t imagine a black Jake being any less funny because it’s the character’s situation that’s funny, not his race.

Then, my curiosity piqued, I went home and Googled Jake from State Farm. Wow! What a lot of angst over nothing! The new Jake is an actor; the old Jake is a former State Farm employee who got residuals from re-runs, but he had been making his living working other jobs for years. I also found a clip stating that old Jake is back at work for State Farm. Apparently, there was also a false death report back in 2014, but otherwise old Jake is reportedly well and happy. New Jake is enjoying great professional success—in the minds of most people—and trying to ignore the crazed response of some to his taking on this role.

I did find one blog lamenting the belief by some people that the new Jake is an attempt at diversity casting . . . and even some who believe that the change in actors wasn’t racially motivated but more about sexual orientation. Where do folks come up with these ideas?

After a lifetime of not seeing many black faces or gays on TV and in movies, any increase seems to be excessive for some white adults. I, for one, am much more alarmed about the increase in smoking, vaping, and gratuitous sex and violence in movies and TV series, regardless of ratings. Now these are things to get upset about!

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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