Sometimes, useful things come out of bad situations. After all, what is a triple homicide if not a great opportunity to meet handsome policemen and tell them your riddles? Most people would generally consider "systemic racism" to be one of those "bad situations." And yet some wholly innocuous-seeming things we use every day are owed directly to man's inhumanity to man. For example ...
5Mickey Mouse Is An Ode To Minstrel Shows
What do Mario, Bugs Bunny, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mickey Mouse have in common, aside from wasting countless hours of our Saturday mornings? The answer: They all wear white gloves, as do most cartoon characters you can name. But ... why? It doesn't make sense for Italian plumbers and coked-up hedgehogs to share the same fashion sense. As it turns out, it's all a big shout-out to incredibly racist minstrel shows.
Minstrel shows were a once-popular form of American entertainment wherein white performers would black up their faces to do silly sketches and sing songs while wearing tuxedos, top hats, and yes, those white gloves. They're mostly remembered today as a tragic byproduct of more racist times -- the central conceit was "Those silly black people are all so happy and ignorant!" But back in the day, it was high comedy. So when early cartoonists like Disney were designing their characters, they paid a little homage ...
Walt Disney, Warner Bros.
M-I-C K-E-Y, W-T-F?
Mickey Mouse is probably the worst offender. While Bugs and the gang kept their racist odes to unfortunate accessories, Mickey's whole look was modeled on blackface singers: The black body and head, large white eyeballs, white area around the mouth ...
That doesn't sound anything like a mouse, but it does sound a lot like one of the more embarrassing trends in American history.
4The Dunk Tank Game Was Originally Called The "African Dip"
In the late 1800s, the hot new fad sweeping the country was "target games." If only there were some way to combine this new craze with the old standard pastime of horrible racism ...
Hey, somebody did it!
Popular games included "Hit the Coon" and "African Dodger," where you literally just threw balls at black people, and then laughed because you weren't them.
Yeah, there are cartoons of that too.
Live targets were eventually replaced with fake heads, but 19th-century fairgoers still wanted to cause at least some discomfort for black people, so they came up with the African Dip.
San Francisco Public Library
Sandwiched between orange blossom candles and fruit, naturally.
In this progenitor of modern dunk tank games, the thrower would hit a target, triggering a release, which caused the dunkee (shockingly enough, always a black person) to fall in the filthy and freezing water. It was good, harmless fun for all! Except for anybody who wasn't white, of course.