While the rest of the country is reflecting on racism in the context of the shooting of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin and authorities' failure to charge or arrest his killer, one black member of Congress is concerned about it in an entirely different arena: tanning salons.
The Huffington Post reports that while Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) may support parts of President Obama's health care law, he has a problem with the 10 percent tax on tanning salons. He told a mostly Democratic group of seniors at a retirement home near West Palm Beach that he thinks the provision is racist, according to the Palm Beach Post.
"You want to talk about something that's really racist? They have a tanning tax," he said. "I'm not tanning."
Never mind that there are plenty of nonwhite people who also enjoy picking up a little extra color (apparently West has never met them). The real kicker is that while West is up in arms about racial discrimination, people who actually know about the dangers of tanning salons are hoping that the 10 percent tax will actually save lives.
Recently the International Agency for Research on Cancer, affiliated with the World Health Organization, moved tanning beds to its highest cancer-risk category, labeling them "carcinogenic to humans." This ranks them alongside other cancer-causing agents such as asbestos, arsenic and cigarettes.
"Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that for every 10 percent price increase, cigarette consumption drops by 3 to 4 percent among adults and 6 to 8 percent among young people," said Dr. Perry Robins, president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. "We hope this tax will have the same effect on tanning-bed use."