Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Is the Face of Genealogy: The Comments to Go with the Picture

Today, as usual, after church I was busy around the house and yard and did not look at Facebook until the evening. As I scrolled down my Facebook page, I was shocked to see message after message on the travesty that was the image and caption that had been attached to what was otherwise a decent article in the LA Weekly on the upcoming Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.

When I opened up Google Reader, post after post was entitled “This Is the Face of Genealogy.” I decided not to wait to put up my own post, and posted a picture of my great-grandmother Angeline Elizabeth Floyd. However, I had just written and posted a fairly long article, so I did not write anything to go with the picture.

I am going to do so now.

Sometimes I think people can be kind of thin-skinned, too quick to take offense. But this is not one of those times. As many pointed out, the picture that was posted with the article makes fun of groups that are still considered “safe” to ridicule. The offensive picture has been taken down, but the steam is still coming out my ears.

I avoid “If you believe X, post Y” memes like the plague. But not this time.

I do not believe in the gratuitous use of bad language. But there is no other way I can say it: I was so PO’d when I saw that picture.

I hate the way people with southern or country accents or country ways are ridiculed.

I hate the way some people impose their own prejudices when they venture to describe what kinds of people do genealogy.

I hate the way poverty and lack of adequate health care - and the effect that may have on appearance - are equated with ignorance.

I hate the way the cheapest of cheap jokes is taken to be hip/cool/sophisticated.

I hate the way this kind of irresponsible flippancy is passed off as “cutting-edge journalism.”

I hate the way a wonderful genealogy event, the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, can suffer by association with this travesty.

If you have read this far, I thank you for your patience with my bad language and bad temper.


  1. I'm with you, Greta. I typically also avoid memes and jumping on bandwagons, but that picture really torqued me. The picture was insulting on so many levels.

    I used to read "that publication" fairly regularly when I lived in the L.A. area, and at one time thought it a quality publication. I'm having second thoughts now. At least they got the message and removed the photo, although I'm sure someone had a good laugh when it was posted.

    "Only in L.A." Let's hope.

  2. Elizabeth - It's amazing how a group of people who aren't really conformists at heart were able to unite in this matter.

    Janice and Theresa - thank you for your encouragement.

    There was one sentence I forgot to add: "I hate the way our ancestors, who suffered and struggled, have been reduced to a caricature."

  3. Amen. Well said. I suspect you speak for most of us on this, Greta. I was grateful for Thomas's suggestion for it allowed me to respond without putting my feelings into words other than those I sent to the author and newspaper. I'm grateful you counted to ten (at least) and shared your words with us, as well as the lovely photo.

  4. You go, girl!

    You definitely hit the nail on the head! Thanks for taking the time to elaborate so eloquently on the issues surrounding the ridiculous picture.

  5. Thank you Greta - it's too true that there are still some things that people feel "safe" to ridicule. And it's too bad. I think you summed it up so well - I have already sent my comments to the editor or I would be inclined to just send them a link to this article!

  6. Nancy and Debbie - Thank you!

    Susan - Actually, I counted to about 100. Couldn't print what I would have said otherwise.

    Mary - It really helped me to blow off some steam.

    Diana - Thank you for your kind comments, and thank you also for writing that letter!