Image by Adrienne King
When I was in college, I was required to take a class my freshman year that focused on various -isms that we have here in the US. Of course, the big one is racism. The teacher was a brilliant female (and black) physiologist (whose name unfortunately escapes me), but she presented a class that opened my eyes in a way no other had. She did not harp on racism as most people know it, but rather the aspects of guilt and shame in society that drives the issue on all sides of the fences.
For example, one of the best questions she posed to us was “If a black man can be proud of being black, why can’t a white man be proud of being white?” Think about it, when was the last time you looked kindly on a person who said “White Pride”?
Anyhoo… She also spoke about the innocent blindness that most white people live with. And she was right, because when she held a “flesh” colored bandaid to her skin, it was the first time in my life that I realized I had never seen a bandaid made for anyone other than white people. It was probably not an intentional. Just, the people who made them were probably white and it just did not dawn on them.
Because of that class, I try to see those kinds of gaps in society, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it until I went to look at my website logs today and saw that a person had ended up on this site by searching for the phrase “black garden gnome“. Much like the bandaid demonstration, it smacked me up side the head that I had never seen anything but a white garden gnome.
I have in my time known a few black gardeners. And there is no more to that than to say obviously people with black skin garden too. As do Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans, and most likely any other skin tone or ethnic background you can think of. Gardening is a pretty universal thing.
So, the question is, Why is there only white garden gnomes? Is it because garden gnomes of color would be considered offensive? Like the old fashioned lawn jockeys (which are now all white as well). Does this issue go back to the Black Pride vs White Pride where one is socially acceptable but the other is not?
But then is it just as offensive to have a common garden decoration that focuses exclusively on the “dominate” (though quickly becoming minority) section of the population?
Or maybe it just never occured to garden gnome manufacturers to have anything but white gnomes.
Or maybe the truth is that only white people have the bad gardening taste to have garden gnomes in their yard (I have 3 personally).
I honestly don’t know whether to take this issue as a real one or just laugh it off. It is, after all, just garden gnomes. But maybe this is a case of fixing the garden gnomes first, then the world?