As millions watched the Winter Olympic Games over the weekend, many were taken aback when the Jamaican bobsled team took front-and-center sporting helmets with watermelon motifs painted on them. The controversial and insensitive move left many, particularly African-Americans, scratching their heads in wonderment, according to TMZ.
The bobsled team of two, Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon, whose country’s major exports are sugar, bananas, coffee and rum, chose instead to not promote one of their main agricultural offerings but to tout a symbol at the Sochi Winter Games that strikes a negative chord for blacks on these shores.
The watermelon stereotype got its roots back during slavery times, when Blacks in this country were viewed as mindless creatures. Whites assumed that all slaves pined for was not freedom but just some shade and cool watermelon to eat. They believed Blacks were simpletons, with an unusual affinity for watermelon and so the fruit became a key symbol in the iconography of racism in the United States.