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Horton hears a racist

Kareem_obama

(Michelle and Barack with daughters Malia and Sasha)

Barack Obama is my choice for president. I’ve already explained why in previous blogs. But if Obama isn’t elected, it would be hard to blame racism. Republicans aren’t going to vote for him, not because he’s black, but because, even worse, he’s a Democrat. And for the most part, Obama has garnered more popular support among white voters than any other candidate. If Obama is elected, I believe that through his leadership skills and intelligence he will usher in a dynamic new era of government by inclusion rather than secrecy. Like John F. Kennedy, Obama will inspire a younger generation and invigorate the older generation to take greater part in their government, society, and community.

But there are many obstacles this New Era will have to face. A sagging economy. War abroad. Faltering education.

And, worst of all, the movie Horton Hears a Who.

This isn’t a review of the movie, it’s a review of how Hollywood sometimes contributes to the divisiveness within the country. Ironically, Horton Hears a Who has done more damage to our society than the recent slate of politically motivated movies about the war in Iraq (Rendition, Stop-Loss, Lambs for Lions, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, etc.) has done good. For one thing, more people saw Horton than saw all the other movies combined.

How can a beloved Dr. Seuss story do so much harm? Well, the original book by Dr. Seuss is just fine, a timeless tale that has been delighting children since it was first published in 1954. The story of the brave elephant that is willing to endure the harshest condemnation from his friends and community in order to protect those in need is a wonderful lesson for children.

But then along comes the movie. To make the story long enough for a full-length movie, a subplot was added about the mayor of Whoville who has 96 cheerful daughters and one brooding son. This is where things take a nasty turn. Basically, the mayor ignores his 96 daughters in order to groom his uninterested son to become mayor. Why doesn’t he groom one of his much more enthusiastic daughters? And, of course, it is the brooding son who, in the end, saves the entire world of Whoville. The daughters? They get to cheer from the sidelines. While it’s true that in the book a “very small shirker named Jo-Jo” does add his tiny voice to the din and thus saves Whoville, but that promotes the idea that we all have our part to play in our community, not that sons are smarter than daughters.

“Hey, it’s just a cartoon,” you might say. But this particular cartoon will be seen by millions of children around the world. And they will come away with a clear impression that a single son is worth more than 96 daughters. Those boys are inherently more valuable than girls, and more likely to be successful (in this case, in saving the world) than girls.

What’s especially insidious here isn’t just that the subplot was written and approved and filmed, but that since the movie has come out, there hasn’t been a popular outcry about it. That we don’t even ask why, in the years it took to make the movie, no one along the line said, “This isn’t a good message to send to our kids.” Is it because sexism is so ingrained in our society that we don’t even flinch at it when it’s shoved in our faces?

What’s all this have to do with racism?

Well, if our society is willing to tolerate any form of social injustice and discrimination toward any single group, then they have created a breeding ground for injustice throughout society. If we allow sexism, ageism, homophobia, religious intolerance, then racism can only flourish as well. We expose our impressionable children to funny cartoons about wacky animals voiced by famous actors and what do we think is going to happen. Will a little girl step out of Horton feeling empowered and motivated, or just slightly less capable than the little boy walking beside her?

I don’t think the filmmakers are evil or that they deliberately set out to send this awful message. Somehow it seems worse that they didn’t notice.

Maybe after eight years of Barak Obama’s presidency, our society will have evolved to a place where the filmmakers and the audiences won’t tolerate even the subtlest forms of discrimination. At least with Barak Obama, we have hope that such a world might be.

(Photo credit: Barack Obama)

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Comments

you rock

Great blog.

What's ironic is that a majority of most of the studio "development" directors are women.

Several years ago, when I was actively producing television shows and movies, I pitched a story based on a rights package I owned. It was based on the true story of a real little girl who was the top gun pilot on the West Coast. She flew Marchetti (sp?)trainers in air combat against grown ups, mostly male pilots -- many of them Air Force pilots who had flown in the original Gulf War. The story was inspirational -- about a little girl who dreamed big and achieved her dreams, and about the support her father, who was raising her alone, gave her -- in a community that condemned him for letting a "little girl" fly.

I will never forget the final pitch meeting at a major studio. The final executive, a man, said "We will consider making this film if you change the lead character to a little boy instead of a little girl. Little girls will watch movies about little boys, but boys won't watch movies about little girls." As he said that, I looked at his desk. He had pictures of his daughters on it. I had a young daughter. I said to him "So long as you refuse to make movies with little girls in the heroic rules, you will perpetuate the stereotypes that are bad for your daughters and mine." I refused to make the change. The movie never got made. (By now, Katrina, my real life, little girl, hero has probably graduated from the Air Force Academy.)

Your blog has nailed this one. It makes me sad that what I ran into then is still in force, today. Thanks for writing your take on the subject of the subtle sexism in mainstream films.

sjh

Hey take it easy its just a movie if no body else is sensitive to the point you made oh well they just dont see it.

Are you serious? I asked my 10year old daughter what she got out of the movie. She said that "...even small people can be big..." I asked how and she said you just have to be yourself.
No comment from her about boys or girls. So, in my opinion, a very positive message came across. Her impression was that people can make a difference.
Too much reading between the lines on your part.

Thank you for the insightful musing.... I am 57 and fought hard against sexism for many many years, raising 2 children alone and working in the film advertising business... sexism is insidious, and it is alive and well despite all the years of our efforts... thank you for noticing.
(and "frank" your outlook is exactly why sexism still lives, because "oh well you just don't see it"....)

Kareem,
Thank you so much for the blog. I don’t have daughters. In fact, I have no biological children. However, each school year I “adopt” 25-30 children. Each year my third grade students become a part of my family (I place them right under my wife, and just ahead of my dog). I do all I can to help them achieve academically, but I find myself caring even more in the fact that they believe in themselves when their time with me is done.

You comment about Horton Hears a Who really struck me. After initially seeing the title of the movie in your blog, I assumed that it had something to do with the pro-life controversy. Instead, I found myself running upstairs and reading the entry to my wife (we went and saw the movie last week) I really felt enlightened by the question that you asked: “Why doesn’t he groom one of his much more enthusiastic daughters?” As you put it, “The daughters? They get to cheer from the sidelines.”

I wouldn’t see any problem in having a movie out like this presented to millions of children, if (and a big if here), there were plenty of movies that carry the same message with the roles reversed. The problem is, there are very few such films that I am aware of. For every Matilda (a girl heroine), there are a dozen Monster’s Inc, Shrek, Cars, Nemo, Toy Story, and Snow Whites out there where female characters do nothing more than sit on the sidelines as the male characters save the day.

If you have an opportunity, please stop by my new blog (I am a rookie) and comment on a post. It would mean a lot!

Mr. Educator
www.educatormr.blogspot.com

Did not see the movie, but sometimes art reflects life. Who knows, maybe that was the exact point the film makers wanted to make.

My young granddaughters are already into the Disney fairy tale princess message. I was happy to find a coloring book with girls playing various sports to send them (they live on the other coast). Children's books have much improved, but still a long way to go, as does television.

Sadly, I think bigotry is playing much more of a role in this election then it should be. I read a bit of something Pat Buchanan wrote and noticed his motto "Right from he beginning" which reminded me of Barry Goldwater's "you know in my heart I am right". Buchanan's words are a throw back to when Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act that ended Jim Crow in southern USA.

Buchanan ended his blog post: "Sorry, Barack, some of us have heard it all before, about 40 years and 40 trillion tax dollars ago."

I do not want to defile your blog by repeating anymore of his blog post. Simply put, white superiority at it's ugliest.

Perhaps among the age group of parents who have children who will be watching this movie there is some conversation about this. I'm sure that I would not have let my young children go to a movie with this story line and I know most of my peers would have felt the same way. On the other hand, there are so many problems for today's parents to worry about, maybe they've given up. Perhaps they are working too hard to really think about these crucial issues. I hope not.

That's one gigantic leap.

outstanding blog.

and to frank, guess what: the mechanisms that subject us are not always visible at the level of the subject. basically, you don't have to notice that you're being controlled, and no one has to actually control you. it's the very modality of the system that does it, and mr. abdul-jabar has absolutely nailed it.

I'm pretty sure the aspect you criticize was no accident or oversight. You did not consider that overseas sales are a huge portion of a movie's profits, and sexism is much stronger in some other parts of the world. Right or wrong, it was a marketing decision.

Kareem-

Why hasn't the United States ever outlawed racism? I think they should have done it after WWII. Do think Obama, if elected, will want to make racism illegal?

-Ajax

OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) had an excellent commentator who had two daughters and took them to see Horton Hears a Who, a father, he was outraged, and made the same points you have. I agree and am also shocked that the studio would change such an excellent story and message upside down!

Wow. I haven't seen the movie yet (and now I won't). I am thoroughly surprised that this hasn't come up in other venues (call me naive). It's sad to think that this decision was made (one son more valuable than 96 daughters) purely as a business decision for its international sale value. Recently I have been learning more and more in what ways racism plays a role in this country and it is absolutely mind boggling (I know, I know, I've been wearing rose-colored-glasses). While there are many things I love about being American, we have a long way to go before America becomes the country it was truly meant to be... Thank you for a great article!

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar,

If you get the chance, I'd encourage you to meet Prof. Russell Robinson at UCLA's law school, he can regale you with tales about the racism inherent in casting decisions in Hollywood and how they're "justified" by resorting to the "artistic freedom" and "sales" rationales. Similarly, I would not be surprised to discover that the same "artistic freedom" and "sales" rationales with regard to the decision to re-write Dr. Seuss's tale with a sexist storyline. Doubtless that's also why MGM, in making the movie 21, decided to change the main characters from Asian-American characters (as they originally appeared in the book Bringing Down the House) to white characters. Simply put, Hollywood is sexist and racist. Now the question remains, "What can be done to change this?"

so well-said, so well-written. you absoLUTEly rock!

Ajax..racism is already illegal in action.

Outlawing thought would be an act as evil as racism. The very foundation stone of liberal western society is freedom of thought. All thought. Good thought. Evil thought. Banal thought.

The best way to battle what we consider vile thought is to meet it head on in the marketplace of public discourse.

kareem, i've been a fan for decades, but this is just plain nuts. if you go forth seeking racism, you can find it anywhere, in just about any cartoon ever made.

consider pepe le pew, one of the most charming, personable cartoon animals ever created - but he faced prejudice due to personal attributes beyond his control, which he was born with. it would be easy to deconstruct him as a proxy black person, a skunk trying to keep it real in a world of kitties and doggies. it doesn't help him either being french. the white male overlords can use this as a symbolic token to demean his masculinity. the little-known steamy outtakes of him and sylvester the cat would surely threaten the worldview of complacent white hetero manimals.

shrek the green ogre has a beef with you. he sees you as being one of several very tall basketball gods, but not entirely unique. he's old enough to compare you with wilt chamberlain, conquerer of 20,000 women and the standard of basketball dominance for cartoon characters of a certain age. kareem, you don't know racism until you wake up green with ears like trumpets.

when you don't like art, fighting it with criticism puts you at a disadvantange. the best way to fight art is with art. how about a kareem versus shrek one-on-one cartoon smackdown? you know he can't defend a skyhook lofted over his head.

I've been around since before the modern feminist movement, and as far as I can tell, the biggest obstacle in our woman's fight for equality is... other women.

I like your story about Horton. I e-mailed it to my kids, who have seen the movie. My 17-year-old daughter disagrees. She says; "The sisters all had done great things and came across really well compared to the brother. He was the oldest and that is why he was in line to be mayor (so the issue is not male-female but hereditary stuff which i disagree with also). The portraits of previous mayors portrayed many women". She acknowledges there was apparently a supervisory board consisting of only men, but, she says, they were all portrayed as nasty and kept the power from the mayor.
Still, I haven't seen Horton but I remember my excitement upon reading 'The paperbag princess' about a girl who saves a prince from a dragon, and finally realised what had been missing from all the stories i had read in my life. Best wishes.

Barack Obama's message is the exact opposite of JFK's. JFK said we should ask what WE CAN DO for our country and Barack says we are all bitter because government is not doing enough FOR US. Maybe their charisma is comparable but certainly their messages are not.

Kareem-

You write a great blog, it's thoughtful and insightful without being forcefull or assuming. I had heard about the abortion controversy and now this? Dr. Suess' family should really stop letting people butcher his legacy. Thank God no one makes Shel Silverstein movies...

And Ajax, you can't police thoughts. You can only stop hamful actions. If you want to end racism, laws can't do it for you. Remember the "War on Drugs"?

Kareem, I must admit that I read your blog with the thought, are you kidding me? Im glad I took the time to read it, and to understand your point of view. Thank you for pointing this out. Its a lesson that I will pass on to my children.

No doubt Kareem, you were a great basketball player and role model, and you're writing is above par. But, your legacy does not preclude you from criticism as most of the comments have suggested. If it had been 96 boys and 1 misfit girl, I believe your message would have read somewhere along the lines of "society is messed up because a girl was singled out for thinking outside of the box." Adulterating an innocent movie with myriad positive messages is what is wrong with America. How about the message to the millions of young men who prefer art and music to their (no shot at you) sport-loving, politicking rough-neck fathers; the message that if they stick to their guns even under the pressure of the person they are supposed to admire most, they will prosper. Of dozens of positive messages to glean from a movie that in all probability entertains children exclusively through talking animals, random slap-stick comedy and a wide spectrum of colors, we are debating the tiny speck that, sorry to say, does not breathe life.

Wow! I'm a 42 year old woman who is very sensitive to sexism and racism, and I completely missed that! Good catch, Kareem. This is an intelligent and thought provoking post.

excellent post!

dear kareem,
i have admired you all my life. now that i am the ripe age of 49 i find myself a single mother of an amazing 6 year old boy. with no father involved i find it even more important that he has the right messages sent to him by family, school, friends and media. he is being raised to acknowledge strong people and it saddens me that our favorite book took such a sad turn. then again look at what they did to alvin and the chipmunks this past year. when i was little my parents would go see a movie before i was allowed to go see it. needless to say i have carried on that family tradition. then again my son doesn't go to the movies much. recently a friend took our sons to see alvin and the chipmunks. i was shocked when my son called a young sales lady mamasita. we had words and he understands when that is disrespectful. i hope that life can turn around for this generation. at least i am trying to turn it around for my son. it's just one child at a time.
thank you, mt

I am laughing so hard at this line...the rest of your article is a vague memory.

"Maybe after eight years of Barak Obama’s presidency....."

Lets get serious...take all of Obama's characteristics and apply it to a White Democrat....he would be losing this race. For once I would like one person to admit that the selling point for Obama is RACE.

I am an African American and that is exactly why I am voting for him...but had he been White...even with his same characteristics...I would had voted for Clinton.

Enough with the BS in the US. Lets call it as it is.

I have to agree with apennysaved - my children did not get that "sexism" from the movie. They came away with you should give your "all" to your goals (Horton stuck to his goal of protecting the speck), have Faith in things - even if you can't see them, don't give up on people who are disappointing you - (Jo-Jo) and that life is precious (from conception on).
I think often it is the parents who point out and teach racism or sexism or any of the other "ism"s. I make an effort not to teach my children those things - to teach them to be kind to everyone - God made us all - to have common courtesy, respect, and manners. If more parents taught that - rather than telling their kids about the differences in people - we would be more united - and there would be less hate.

I'm confused how the obvious sexism in the movie didn't lead to a blog about, I don't know.... sexism rather than racism?!?!? While racism clearly runs rampant in our society, sexism is just as prevalent a problem in our culture... as is seen by this blog entry, which while acknowledging the sexism in the movie, trumps it by making a production about how if sexism is allowed, racism will be too. Why not just talk about how the movie perpetuates hateful, belittling SEXIST ideas??? Isn't that enough? Isn't that a problem deserving of its own post?

And then bringing it all back around to an endorsement for Barak Obama for president, (I'm not even going to touch on the whole racism/sexism divide in the Democratic party right now) I just don't get where you're going. If you want to endorse Obama, go ahead and say it loud and proud, Obama is the right candidate, no doubt. But if you want to talk about the sexism that permeates the media then talk about that don't try to make it about something it isn't.

I mean come on, Kareem, if you want to defend and teach your daughters, then you need to prepare them for a world where they will combat both racism and sexism and not perpetuate the problem by trying to make one issue seem more important than the other.

wow - i just watched the movie last night and when i saw that someone called this movie unbearably sexist, i had to read more.

sometimes, i think at least, people read into things way too much. the fact that the mayor "grooms" his uninterested son for mayor instead of his daughters cannot be called sexist. they gave a perfectly good explanation for him choosing the son instead of the daughters. whoville tradition anyone?

in that huge hallway with all the photos of past mayors, they were all males. why make this movie adaptation of a book that is no longer than 25 pages, (maybe 1 full page of text), longer by adding another subplot to show the mayors girls being as smart as his son?

now, put yourself in the mayors shoes for a second. i know its just a character, but hear me out. lets be more realistic and say you have, i dont know, 10 daughters and 1 son. your daughters are very smart, energetic and outgoing. your son, however, is shy, a loner, and doesnt speak to anyone, not even you. now as your daughters already seem to have things on the up & up, who, as a parent, would you feel you have to focus more parental attention to?

the "underlying" context of this movie is what "you" make of it. to use a defense made popular in the 80's in the war of Tipper Gore vs Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, "You were looking for sexism in this movie, and you found it"

Oh my goodness Ajax you are an ignorant moron! You cannot make a way of thinking illegal! That has to be one of the most unintelligent things I have ever heard. I'm not endorsing racism but you cannot make it illegal. That just validated my thought that the majority of Americans are idiots who shouldn't be allowed to vote because they have no more knowledge or thought process than a 5 year old.

Quite frankly I feel that people can find any meaning they want in movies, tv, music etc. It's all about interpretation. Children are not as cynical as adults and they don't look as deep. And if you have a child who is getting their entire outlook on the battle of the sexes from movies there's a problem. If parents step in and would take an active role in their children then less of who they are would be formed by movies. If you have parents encouraging a son or daughter that counts for more than a movie could ever influence.

And just to put my two cents in Obama would be the ruination of the US, I almost hope he gets elected so all the sheep realize he has no experience, no vision, his wife is a racist, elist and they will actually increase the racial divide in this country. Again, stupid Americans.

I completely agree with you re: the Dr. Seuss movie and thilnk it's great that a MAN is taking issue with this. If a woman takes issue then she's likely to be viewed as a whiney, women's liber whose just looking for something to complain about.

I think if parents make a concerted effort to let their daughters know they can do anything a man can do - the negative messages in the world won't have as much of an impact. I know my 10 year old daughter feels empowered to do whatever she wants, even if it's traditionally a male role, eg she has wanted to be an engineer since she was 6.

The same is true with all the other 'isms' - if we directly address them with our kids and give them a great foundation - then the outside influences will have a lot less power, if any.

I have yet to see the movie, and never really intended to. TMZ posted that you had a blog about it and I was intrigued. I am glad that I looked at what you had to say. It's so unfortunate that there are messages out there like this. I try at every turn to encourage my two daughters to do whatever they want in life.

I agree, it's just a movie, but every movie that comes out, pushes the envelope further. For decades, there has been a message that "boys will be boys" and girls should know their place. My daughters told me once that "only boys are heros," and I was sad. I have no idea where they got an idea like that and I told them that women can be heros too, by the big and small things they do in life. And I made sure to let them know that they are my heros, because without them, I would never have gotten the most challenging, rewarding, painful, joyful amazing jobs in my life...MOM. I hope parents everywhere encourage their children to do great things and that we are all heros, men and women. And we need to hold our boys and girls to a different standard, one in which they can succeed and grow, not one where they are doomed from the beginning. Thank you for your blog, because it's yet another reminder that my job as a mom is never done. Thank God!

As an avid reader of current events, world news and occasionally the rantings of insignificant editorialists, I'm stunned it's taken me this long to read something that's caused me to fall off my chair from laughing so hard. Perhaps I was just dizzy from the astonishing spinning leaps my sore brain had to take in reading your conclusions. I'm not sure.
I never had any idea that 2+2= kumquat ...or was it fairytale+delusion=racism/sexism/anyism? Your editorial has thouroughly taught me this bewildering lesson.
After lunch, I shall teach my children that somehow, somewhere, women and africans are being theoretically shackled because they've eaten a bologna sandwhich.
Shame on them.

To take this movie and make the ENORMOUS leaps into segregation that Kareem has done is ridiculous at best and a diversion from real problems at worst. What people like Kareem don't understand is that racial/sexual divides are propagated in much the same way we hold up mass murderers through various media outlets. They FEED on the attention and although you may think what you're doing is a good thing, it ultimately MOTIVATES them. When we cry about these things in public (especially from publicly respected figures) we exacerbate the issues beyond their own merit. Racism is a dying breed in this country and will expire quickly if there were more of us like Barrack Obama. Obama refuses to make excuses and in fact promotes accountability. We, as a people, need to learn from our mistakes, no doubt. But when you drone on about the past you forget to look toward the future. There are many great things yet to be done and as a society it is counterproductive to rehash predjudice as it does nothing but divert from potential progress. If more people ignored the increasingly small sects of racists/sexists that do still exist, the fire in their belly would burn out because they would have no one to fight back. If you MAKE it so, then it is so. We need to learn from our past but people, PLEASE, we also need to move on from it....

If my response is posted, can you please delete my url?

Maybe Kareem should look at Obama's pastor Rev. Wright. I don't think Rev Wrights comments could be considered "subtle" , but seem to be tolerated and excused by Obama's supporters.

Great blog!!! As a woman and a person with a very very diverse family I couldn't agree more!!! I must add a comment to Ajax's comments. I don't believe you can outlaw thought. That's a dangerous road to start heading down. Instead we need to teach children that ALL people are the same. Skin color, sexual preference, gender, even different religions need to be accepted by all. You don't have to agree with everyone, but I do believe you should respect the difference among your fellow humans! Not forced but taught! People are just that, people. The sooner we accept that we all need help each other, the sooner the world will be a better place. I believe Obama is our key, our hope! (But I don't support legislating thoughts!) Legislate crime, not thoughts!

What a leap, dude. You were a great player and all, but that hardly qualifies you to make such leaps (of logic).

Only reason I went to this was, as some previous commenter noted, that maybe you were sounding off on the life affirming message: A person is a person no matter how small.

Uh, the title 'Horton hears a racist', should the word be sexist rather than racist, to go along with your sexist theme.

I also don't agree with your choice of president, but then this is America, right...we can have our differences and still be friends.

Good luck with your blog.

I would like to casually ask what people expected. The sexist and racist ideas of the past haven't really changed or disappeared -- they've just become more subtle.

In terms of girls' toys, for instance, we've moved from Barbie to the even more hypersexualized Bratz. And we went from Brenda Lee to Britney Spears in, what, four decades?

Say what you want about the "good ol' days"... even that they weren't all that good, and I'd agree with that. What disturbs me, though, is that in the name of "giving the consumer what he/she/his children want," we've managed to perpetuate the failings of the old WASP patriarchy. Now we just figure "hey, what's good for business is good for the country."

The vast majority of American society as it currently exists should be avoided or combatted with extreme prejudice. We're rats pushing the pleasure switch.

It sounds like you all have a lot of adult emotional baggage that you are trying to attach to a children's film. I have not heard one child, male or female complain about Jojo or ask for more daughter screen time.

The point is Jojo is the oldest child, and thus next in line. His dad has already decided what his future is going to be without Jojo's input. It is part of the human experience that girls can relate to as well, without Jojo needing to actually be female.

I would like to second Ajax's comment.

It is about time racism was outlawed. I am pretty sure Obama outlined a plan for banning racism in all 48 mainland states and then slowly phasing it out in Alaska and Hawaii. Hopefully he will be elected so that we can live in a country free of racism, like Europe.

nevermind the movie, did you see last night both Hitlery and O' Bomb Ya accurately pointing out how each other is crooked and a liar?

Repubs 2008!

Our pre-existing notions and prejudices will always guide our judgments. Kareem saw sexism against women. One could also argue sexism against boys/men. Why is it that in many stories like this the young boys are always depicted as lazy and good-for-nothing while the girls are all worthy? Have you noticed how every TV show or commercial always shows the men as dumb, out of touch slackers that only can be helped by their wives? Few examples: Raymond? King Of Queens? There are to many to list.......

There all always more sides to an issue than meets the eye.

Kareem is normally on point but his comments about Horton are a woeful overeaction. The reason there was no outcry is because any possible discriminatory message was so subliminal it would require a huge stretch to see it. Because some group of non-essential characters is ignored has nothing to do with them being discriminated against. I could make the same point about the wonderful new film "Nim's Island" which stars the talented young actress Abigail Breslin. Why didn't she have a brother, or a mother? Why did her Dad get lost at sea, isn't that anti-Father? Please. If Kareem wants to really pinpoint Hollywood's misogynistic leanings he should target the rash of sexist movies like Super Bad, Wedding Crashers, and Knocked Up which objectify women openly and unabashedly.

You admonish sexism - that is incredibly insightful. Bravo. But instead of endorsing one of those 96 daughters, you endorse the son for president. Ummm... What?

It's great you think women should be considered, but ultimately, you've condemned yourself in your own blog! Bravo!

Thank you for saying something about it. The message being sent out to young girls is very sad. Not only in movies, also tv and music. I use to like sometimes playing videos on the computer while cleaning the kitchen, ( I thought not overly sexual videos), until my daughter asked why dark skinned girls don't wear any clothes. That was the end of having any music videos playing in the house. Lately, I have been so discouraged by what is on tv that I just don't turn it on anymore.

Why in the name of gord did you title this Horten hears a Racist and have the only picture on the blog of Obama?

At first I thought you were writing an anti-Obama blog...then I read it, agreed with your message, but still was bothered by the little tick of adding Obama's picture.

Lots of people have many misconceptions about Obama, probably in every ethnic community. I still to this day hear people saying that they believe Obama is Muslim, that he was sworn in on the Quaran, that he is an elitist, that he hates white people, yadda, yadda, yadda...

These same people will only take the time to see the words racist and Obama's pic and not read the rest of your blog...

Why should they, their misconceptions again have put 2 and 4 together to come up with their own skewed interpretation of your writing.

All I'm saying is, geeez man, be careful with this stuff...

PLEASE...

C

Dear Kareem, I also noticed that the film tended to be a little misleading for children and possibly could downplay the intelligence of a female child. However, to make the jump from sexist (to a child, for an educated adult should be able to get past this) to racist is a little much. Just because the film is prejudiced in one way does not make it prejudiced in a specific other. While I appreciate you blazoning the path toward fixing social injustice, I thought this blog was a little unfair against the movie.

Thanks,
Bonnie L.

If Kareem is focusing on racism, why not take Nobama to task over his declaration that he is black because the world treats him as if he is black.
That is racism in its' purest form.
Nobama had an opportunity to take the world down the path of a colorblind society, but instead chose stereotyping in order to fulfill his politicial power ambitions.
Kareem, lets hear your take on Rev. Wright, and how listening to him for twenty years won't have an impact on Nobama and his rascist viewpoints.

I just linked here from tmz...kinda expecting some irrationality...but to tell you the truth, i just saw Horton Hears A Who 2 days ago and those were my thoughts exactly. That's what I was thinking as the credits rolled...so I'm glad that it wasn't just me.

It was quite disturbing. Throughout the movie I'm going, where are his daughters? What are they doing? Why is it that only his son seemingly matters?

Kudos for putting it out there

kareem,
i went to ucla 67-70 and will never forget you walking through the student union 2 ft taller than anyone else.

i have 2 daughters. thanks for speaking up for them.

The reason you haven't heard any child complain about Jojo or ask for more daughter screen time is that it is all extremely subliminal. The message they're sending isn't obvious like the message "a person's a person, no matter how small". The kids carry that message home with them because it's obvious. But what isn't obvious is what Kareem is saying, that this message of a boy having the same, or more, value than 96 girls, is being taken home with them at a much deeper level than the stated moral of the movie. What if it were one white boy, and there were 96 black boys? How obvious and racist would that be? Would we accept that?

Thanks, Kareem. Glad to know you still see an "ist" behind every rock.

Now, if you'll excuse me, all us white males are meeting at George Will's house to work out our next plot.

I dunno ... Personally, if I were a parent, I'd be paying more attention to the problem child than the well-adjusted ones, regardless of sex. Perhaps you should be considering the other message here - All of the daughters were happy, well-adjusted and enthusiastic girls who didn't NEED any help. That's not such a bad place to be.

Perhaps they should have made the other siblings a mix of boys and girls, but I suspect they did it because having 96 girls and one boy simply sounds more absurd and Seuss-ish. Not out of sexism. We'd be screaming if the one maladjusted kid was the only girl - think about it!

I saw the movie, and it reminded me of the bible story of the Shepard who had 100 sheep and lost 1 and left the 99 to find the one lost sheep. I guess you would think the Shepard was foolish to leave 99 sheep to find the one that was lost. Racism and Sexism are everywhere (even some places where it is not) if you look hard enough, much like the person who only has a hammer and then comes to realize that everything is a nail.

Actually, the saddest thing about this movie is that kids will see it and not read the book and think they know what "Horton Hears a Who" is all about. We need kids to experience things in their original form not some perversion of Dr. Seuss, who fortunately died before this abomination appeared.

Thank-you for noticing the subtle message that girls are not as important as boys. I'm appalled how many young women today just want to be "smoking hot" arm candy.
I also cringed at "The Little Mermaid", not because it was a poorly made movie. I was concerned with the idea that the King only cared about the one daughter because she was the prettiest and best singer. While the other daughters showed up for rehearsals and obeyed him, she flited around and seemed very selfish. Of course, when she found "her prince", she sacrificed everything for him. Gee...a prince. And, while we're on the subject, let's talk about the unreal expectations generations of girls have about marrying a prince. How many of us have looked past a good man while we were waiting for our childhood fantasy to show up.

DN

Kareem, there are those who might call you sexist, since you are supporting Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. I'm just sayin'. Also, there is no religion on earth which is more sexist than.............Islam............been to an Islamic country lately?

Just wanted to point that out. I know you mean well.

Agreed Kareem. I have a strong distaste for the Lakers, but I now hold you in extremely high regard.

John Simensky....you are the only one to point out the obvious. Jojo being the eldest child would naturally be the next in line right? They specifically said Jojo was the oldest child. As in a "hierarchy of the throne", wouldn't it be normal and apropos for the oldest to be next in line? there really shouldn't be any conversation over this minuscule sub-plot of a children's movie by someone who apparently (Kareem) has not seen it. If he did go see this movie, how much attention was he paying to the rest of the movie? I have three kids and they all loved the movie. From a child's perspective, the lessons taught in Horton Hears A Who had nothing to do with whether or not the next person being groomed for the mayoral throne was male or female. They were more interested in the fate of the "little guys", so to speak. Maybe the point of the movie was that a person is a person no matter how small...oh, wasn't that what the elephant was proclaiming through out the movie as he tried to protect them from destruction from an over-zealous busy-body? If you want to over analyze something that was meant for pure entertainment value, how about this perspective? Horton Hears A Who is about persecution of minorities....or this, Horton Hears A Who is about the right to life. Or even better, The mayor must have some sort of schizophrenia since he spends 90% of the movie talking to himself. Maybe this isn't a children's movie after all??? It should have been rated PG-13. Seriously, folks, can't we ever see things at face value??? Children like cartoons. Children generally don't relate to cartoon characters as role models, especially elephants and microscopic people. My kids have never come to me and said "mom I wanna be just like spongebob when I grow up". Children relate to REAL people, humans, as role models so lets try to keep things in a normal perspective. They admire and mimic Miley Cyrus and other little Hollywood stars. How about this instead...parents set good examples for their children. Parents lead their children to becoming good, morally convicted adults themselves. Instead of relying on movie studios, athletes, actors, and singers, parents should take 100% responsibility for raising their children to know the rights and wrongs of society. Teach their children that race, sex, weight, religion, appearances and abilities are not the criteria for judging others. Childhood is too short to burden children with their parents issues with sexuality or racism. Raise your children to love everybody so that your issues will not become theirs.

Children are like sponges -- they soak up every little bit of information about the world. They may not be able to express it to an adult right now -- but they are getting the messages about a woman's place in our society loud and clear.
Thank you, Kareem, for noticing the sexist subtext in the movie.
Think about this: Obama's speech was hailed as the most important speech on race since Rev. Martin Luther King.
It was wonderful and important and necessary.
It made me wonder -- could Hillary have given an equivalent speech about sexism in America? Would it have been received the way Obama's speech was received?
Yes, Hillary could have given such a speech -- No, it would not have been received well at all. We have made great strides in dealing with racism (there is still a long way to go ) but we are still in the stone age when it comes to even recognizing the issues facing women and girls in our society.

Our pre-existing notions and prejudices will always guide our judgments. Kareem saw sexism against women. One could also argue sexism against boys/men. Why is it that in many stories like this the young boys are always depicted as lazy and good-for-nothing while the girls are all worthy? Have you noticed how every TV show or commercial always shows the men as dumb, out of touch slackers that only can be helped by their wives? Few examples: Raymond? King Of Queens? There are to many to list.......

There all always more sides to an issue than meets the eye.

GREAT POST!

Tragically, sexism is so ingrained in our culture that even when it's so clearly pointed out to them many still fail to see it. Just look at some of the comment above as examples.

BAC

The Good Shepard goes loses sleep and goes off searching for his lost little lamb. If the 96 daughters were already enthusiastic then, clearly, they did not need the good offices of their thoughtful father. A wise father calls upon a shirker son to rise to the occasion and sees his potential, even as the son seems to reject him. Good daughters do not pout about "not getting theirs" or walk away from that example by whining about how they were ignored. The message is not that they were less valuable. The message was that they were more capable and more confident. That is an apt message for today. Today--particularly among the African American population--it is our boys who need our good offices. Sexism? Oh, please.

Interesting take. Your point about people not getting/seeing it is the most telling. One of the great strengths of having someone with the kind of compassion and empathy via his unique, multi-cultural and fascinating background that Barack has is that he will, inherently, raise the level of focus upon issues such as these. There will be people who scream, of course, because change is often painful. For less conscious people who are unaffected by numerous stereotypes and "isms", it can easily be seen as a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situation. For many -- far too many -- it is and has been broke for some time.

It's time to take our next step in our conscious evolution. Bring on Barack!

Thank you, Kareem. I saw the movie and felt the exact same way. When I asked my six-year-old daughter why she thought none of the girls had become mayor, she said, "because only boys can be a mayor." Thankfully, we got to discuss it. But if I hadn't asked, that thought would've stayed with her, and I never would have known it. I wouldn't be so sure the message is as "subliminal" or hidden as some responders are suggesting. It's right out there.
As for Obama, he's a real person who says and feels real things. He isn't scared of strong women who stand up for themselves. His mom was one, his wife and sister are, too. He will make a great president.

Kareem, as Dr Evil said to his son Scott in Austin Powers, "you just don't get it". It's a movie and a bad movie at that. Life trumps movies, i.e. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas glorified drugs yet life tells us that "Duke" actually blew his brains out. I'll take my lesson from life.

I'm a white female, and I noticed what Kareem noticed right away. Good for him for putting it out there! I'm impressed that a male noticed!

Kareem, I'm a Obama supporter and have donated repeatedly to his campaign. So, GO OBAMA!

However, dude, why you do have supporting evidence for your argument, it doesn't make it any less crazy.

If you look for something long enough, you'll find it, even if it isn't there.

Allison:

You said, in response to a SINGLE COMMENT, that:
"That just validated my thought that the majority of Americans are idiots who shouldn't be allowed to vote because they have no more knowledge or thought process than a 5 year old."

One person, ONE COMMENT, validated some ignorant generalization you believe about the the MAJORITY of Americans? One comment proves millions of people are dumb? Millions of people of whom you have never even met 1%? On top of that, you don't even know whether Ajax is American or not. You just assumed because you're an elitist bigot.

I know there's not much of a chance you will actually return and see whether there has been a response to your comment, but just in case you do, I wanted to point out that what you said was about a million times dumber than anything else that has been said in this thread. If you can't figure out why, I weep for your future. You are in no position to judge anyone else's intelligence.

Horton hears a what??? This blog was a bunch of junk. It seems like there’s got to be someone that misses the plot and finds some “hidden message”. Not only do they find some “hidden message” but they’ve got to sculpt that “hidden message” into something else to help their cause; like this movie was some sort of propaganda. My daughter didn’t take away the same message you did. Neither did her friends or their parents. But I’m sure it was all subliminal and at some point over the next few years it will find it’s way to the surface and we’ll be back in 1920 - when men worked, women stayed home... oh wait, this is supposed to turn into something about racism right? I’m black, I’m proud. I have many friends that are all ethnically different. The root of racism has nothing to do with a movie adaptation of a book but in what is being taught to our children by us the parents.

I wonder who is in charge of Dr. Seuss's estate these days. They are totally cashing in and selling out. You are right, Kareem, that the movie violates the book. In fact, the other thing about the book is its wonderful care with words. The movie is just a sloppy gabfest.

P.S. I would put social class on your list of injustices. The rich in this country are just out of control, and we still haven't addressed Dr. King's observation that being able to sit at the lunch counter doesn't matter much if you can't afford a hamburger.

Thanks for your blogging and your thoughtfulness.

I think your take on this is fascinating and has made me re-evaluate "Horton'. While I think it is a bit much to make the leap to racism from the movie's subplot, I do find it interesting I haven't heard similar complaints. I realize you can find messages in many media items if you are looking for them, as evidenced by LeBron's Vogue cover flap. However, I feel there is some relevance in this case.

Racism and sexism in Horton hears a who???

You are really reaching on this one.

Enjoy your day. Life is too short...

Maybe we're wrong for always saying the mayor (or boy who's groomed to be) is the hero?

Tonya and Jennifer want girls and moms to be heros (which I agree with though I'm male), then don't obsess over the people with the "important" titles.

We get into more trouble because we expect politicians, athletes and other famous people to be godlike Heros. We need to appreciate the 96 girls no matter what their professions are, for being the best (fill in role) that they can be.

PS: I like Kareem, but I don't get the leap from the gender issue to racism (especially for the title of this posting).

I would agree that this is just one more movie that reinforces the sexist, racist paradigm that is our life as we have known it. While I am sure that the positive messages in the movie are equally as important, the fly in the soup spoils the broth.
Yes, art not only mirrors or reflects life, it guides and structures our attitudes and perspectives, and yes Kareem, I agree, reinforces them. Racism today, and sexism is getting there, has moved for the most part into the gray area that divides black from white, night from day, and in this half light (hopefully not of a dawn but of dusk) the subliminal message is shaded by a perspective thousand-year-old fairy stories, tales and fables have made a part of our very DNA.
Does this movie do more harm that good? Does yet another movie that in one perspective helps to perpetuate the wretchedness of sexism and racism add to the oceans of historical misery? Can we simply have some equality in art that promotes the ideal of equality for all humans?

BTW, can we have a black “Tarzan” who enters the jungle of America and helps to make an uncivilized society a better place for all to live? Is that asking for too much?

I thought I had missed out on this HUGE issue when I saw the movie, so I asked my almost 13 year old what he learn when he watched the movie....after much thought and consideration he declared 'that a guy can have more than 10 kids'.....so I prompted him and tried to 'lead' him to the whole sexist/racist path that you have mentioned, After a few minutes I realised that this was still going over his head, so I outright asked him "Did he feel the girls were overlooked in ANYWAY', after he stopped laughing, I can safely say he did not walk away from the theatre feeling anymore important than his sister, the issues you are discussing here went straight over his head, and he is an intelligent and very well read young man. The only message that he saw was that when a pink elephant tells you that he has a small speck with strange people living on it, even if you can't hear it, maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt!! I think as usual, adults have tried to take something from the children, trying to bring in their issues and beliefs. Kids are just small people who have not been spoilt yet, these issues, if they are there in the movie, THEY DON'T SEE THEM!!! It goes straight over their heads, because they are children!!! Sounds a bit like trying to take Father Christmas out of Christmas to me!!!

Wow. That was quite a stretch there (even for a 7-footer). Really?! We're going to get offended over this. There's probably a pretty good reason that there was no outcry. There's nothing to cry about! He went to his son who was obviously troubled. He went to his child that was in need of his help. Don't parents do this? If they have a kid who is in trouble don't they go to him or her? Man oh man, what a ridiculous rant...

First of all, I think you contradicted yourself in using "Horton Hears a Who" as an example. As you mentioned that the "daughters" were ignored and the "son" was being groomed to be mayor...isn't this the same scenario that you portray? That you want Obama (a son) to be groomed to be President and Hillary (a daughter) to be ignored and put on the sideline?

I am a minority myself, but it's hard not to notice that anytime a black person doesn't get their way, they always play the "race card". If Hillary doesn't win, will you then say it's sexism? No, you only mentioned that it would be racism if Obama doesn't win.

In my opinion, you are racist for saying as such. How long must we hear the racism excuse?

Although Japan is often critiscized for its treatment of women, you cannot argue with a certain director's view of Japanese girls. Legendary animation film director, Hayao Miyazaki, has created numerous films with strong willed, independent female heroines. If you're as disgusted as Kareem and I am about the state of children films in America, please take time to view the inspirational films: "My Neighbor Totoro", "Spirited Away", "Howl's Moving Castle", and most importantly, "Kiki's Delivery Service." His films, "Naussica-Valley of the Wind" and "Princess Mononoke" contain mild violence, but both portray some of the strongest willed feminine characters found in cinema histroy. Every film preaches autonomy and gives girls proper role models to look up to.

I took my grandsons to see the movie, and came away with a different feeling. It was clear to me that the boy who saved the day was both small (like the people) and an iconoclast. The bad guys were the herd of animals who feared change and anyone different than themselves. It was group thinkers versus the individual and big bullies versus the little guys.

Kareem perceived it differently. Where I saw small versus large and individual versus mob, Kareem saw boy versus girl. He saw sexism which he associated with racism and his positive feelings for Obama.

Different perceptions lead to different emotional reactions. Such conclusions are not formed by conscious reasoning, but by sub-conscious processes that trigger emotions.

I cannot feel his reaction, and he cannot feel mine.

Does that make me "a racist?" Does that make him "paranoid?"

I think Ajax has a great idea. We should outlaw racism at once. The government should start building re-education camps immediately. We can start by locking up rappers who drop the N bomb, then move on to Mexicans who utter the word "gringo".... and of course we'll throw in anyone opposed to illegal immigration too.

We'll include any muslim just because all muslims hate jews, right? Then we'll move on to the millions of whites who we are taught to hate anybody with pigmented skin. Add to the mix Koreans who don't like Mexicans, Chinese who don't like Taiwanese, and New Yorkers who don't like anybody. We should also lock up Armenians on principle. There's just too many of them running around Glendale smelling of delicious falafel.

After that, lock up Barak & Hillary because I'm pretty sure they don't like each other, and it must be because of race.

Anyone who is left as a free person should then be locked up because they surely hate Canadians, and who can blame them?

Outlawing racism is the best idea I've heard in my life. It must be implemented immediately if we are to save our great nation.

"...if our society is willing to tolerate any form of social injustice and discrimination toward any single group, then they have created a breeding ground for injustice throughout society. If we allow sexism, ageism, homophobia, religious intolerance, than racism can only flourish as well."-Kareem

Did anyone read this sentence?? It is the truth. If you cannot see this, a little racial self reflection is in order.

I am amazed at how many posts have come out of the blue to reprimand Kareem for including the word 'racist' on this blog. Anytime anyone says anything is racist, people get all riled up. It's ridiculous!

There is such a thing called covert racism. Many of you need to look that definition up and take heed to it.

Just a question about Obama stopping all forms of discrimination in 8 years. Does that include the discrimination of putting one person ahead of another at work just because the color of their skin (affirmative action?) Does it stop the discrimination of having a beauty pageant for a group of girls that are of a specific race rather than open to all (Miss Black USA Pageant?) Does it stop the discrimination of giving scholorship money to someone based on the color of their skin rather than the need of their situation (United Negro College Fund?) I agree that their are ills in society. I agree that there are many things that we can work on as Americans to make this country a better and more united place to live. But do we elect a man who refuses to distance himself from his preacher who teaches hate and division from the pulpit? Do we elect a man who's most liberal record in the Senate, helps to keep people chained to poverty by encouraging dependency on the welfare of others? Let's find together a candidate who will help build people up rather than tearing them down. Let's find a candidate that will bring this country together building upon strengths, rather than focusing on peoples weakness. I think as Americans we can do better than what we have out there now. Let's not vote Obama, or Clinton, or Mccain. Lets vote America, and find someone who deserves the highest office.

Wow, there are some woefully myopic people commenting here. Just because things don't materialize like a hammer to the head doesn't mean they aren't real.

Mr. Jabbar aptly used the word "insidious" to describe sexism, racism, and all the other ism's. For those too lazy to look it up:

"insidious" in·sid·i·ous [in síddee əss] adj

--gradual and harmful: slowly and subtly harmful or destructive

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


**

To Mr. Jabbar, you are an awesome inspiration and a wonderful role model. I am so pleased that you have a blog. I hope friends and students will come to read it. Your magnanimity is profound.

Re: Keilani's allegation of Mr. Jabbar of "you only mentioned that it would be racism if Obama doesn't win"


Uh... You do realize that KAJ explicitly stated that if Obama lost that it would be NOT due to racism?

While I agree with the sexism in the plot, I would ask you if you feel there were elements of sexism in "Airplane!", in which you starred?

Bare breasted women romp around the plane for laughs, and while I enjoyed this very much, it appears a bit of a double standard.

I think that the reason that there is no outcry over this is that because its all part and parcel of the great American tradition. Good post.

Dear Mr. Abdul-Jabbar,

Thank you so much for writing this, all of it. I can't even tell you how badly I needed to read something as thoughtful, compassionate, and true as this, today. I am so glad you are in the world, and speaking. Thanks again.

Great column. If we can see the problems, we can fix them.

I don't agree with the commenters saying that if we could only ignore the problems they would go away. I understand where it comes from---I get pissed off at my dentist every time he goes into that whole "cavity" thing of his. But I'm a grown-up: I get the cavities filled.

I didn't mean outlawing thoughts. that's ridiculous. I just want to end racism. racism is such an idiotic thing. But whatever. I am of mixed races. I think in a hundreds of years, if we make it that long, people will be even more mixed than they are today. But racism may still be around then. I don't know.

I think you've taken the wrong message away from the father's relationship to JoJo. Here we have a father who is completely oblivious to his son's wants, needs, and desires, who attempts to force him into the mold of who he wants his son to be (a future mayor). A father who isn't communicating with his son because he's too busy dictating to him. I think this relationship speaks much more to the pressure we put on our children to succeed (according to OUR definitions of success) and meet our expectations than it does to sexism, racism, or any other "ism".

JoJo merely wants to pursue HIS dreams and interests and be left alone. In this respect, the character echoes Horton: when Horton discovers the world of Whoville, he just wants to protect them and keep them safe, but the kangaroo keeps insisting that he do what SHE wants him to do and attempts to thwart all his efforts to pursue the path he's chosen. In all, then, the movie speaks to individualism and pursuing your own path, no matter what others think of it. This fits in nicely with "a person is a person no matter how small". No matter who you are or what you want to do in this life, it's all worthwhile in the pursuit of your own happiness and should be respected. Ultimately, since every person is of value, the movie's true message contradicts sexism, racism, etc.

Ajax,

How can you say that you don't want to outlaw thoughts, but want to end racism? Racism by it's very nature exists as thoughts, emotions, and words. How can you outlaw this? Sure, there are certain laws we have in place that prohibit certain racial-inspired actions and discrimination in business and political dealings, but anti-racism legislation can never be more than that. It would destroy freedom of speech and thought in this nation.

Like it or not, in America, you are free to think or say any vile or racist thought you like, so long as it does not interfere with, or serve to incite the deprivation of the rights of others. You may not like racism, but it is an intrinsic trait inherent to all human civilization since we climbed out of the primordial mud.

Racism will never end until human brains change, until all nations, races, and cultures are blotted out and become universal. I hope I never see that day, because our differences make us real. Even if that day ever comes, people will still find ways to discriminate, whether it be by class, height, bone structure, clothing, geographical residence, or anything else.

Ask yourself why people create divisions among each other. Why do we have "teams" in sports? Why do gangs self identify by color, neighborhood, or culture? Why do people often express certain perceptions of others from different nations, regardless of "race"? Why are their class distinctions in society? There are endless ways that we divide ourselves.

Find a way to end the human instinct to divide, and you will find your solution to racism.

Watch the movie again, Kareem. Not only does your blog blatantly throw the word "Racist" around as if it has no meaning, but your blog itself isn't tackling race, but sexism. Not only that, but there IS NO SEXISM IN THIS MOVIE!

In the movie, the job of mayor goes to the OLDEST child... and immediately after being introduced to the children, you are taken to the family portraits where they show the men and WOMEN who have been mayor. Your ignorance is disturbing at least, disgusting at most.

Really this comes down to being a pro-obama rant. If 8 years of Obama means that we can't have a movie that is Father/son or has two guys as main characters because it would cause a moral outrage... then, my friend...Obama has just lost my vote.

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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

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