Theodore R. Johnson III
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Writing at the Huffington Post, Theodore Johnson says that "move on" is the most ridiculous of propositions when it comes to concerns about African-American stereotypes.

In a recent article written about the African-American-watermelon stereotype for Huffington Post/TEDWeekends, I wrote that its deep iconography persists years after it should have spoiled and died on the vine. A noticeable amount of feedback on the article charged me with resurrecting typecasts long overcome, finding racism where no such thing existed, or, the most entertaining of all, mindlessly attacking the fruit as racist.

One particular point, however, seemed to strike a chord. When I noted some African-Americans will not eat watermelon in public, there was amazement that any person would allow their life, behavior, or actions to be unduly influenced by stereotypes and racist imagery. The sentiment was that since this is 21st century America, every one of us should express ourselves as we see fit, and if people have an issue with that expression, it is their problem. Such a simple solution to an avoidable problem: just shake that racism stuff off — it's a free country!

So if I have corn-rowed hair or dreadlocks on a job interview and the company thinks my hair is unprofessional, not my problem, right? If a black woman with a unique, ethnic name that conjures up images of unmarried welfare queens with multiple children is denied a home loan in an upscale neighborhood, not her problem. And when a young black boy in baggy jeans and a hooded sweatshirt carrying candy and iced tea is assumed to be a miscreant, it's not his problem


Read Theodore Johnson's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Theodore R. Johnson III is a former White House fellow. His writing focuses on race, society and politics. Follow him on Twitter.

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