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Posted 10.09.09

Harry Connick, Jr., Special Envoy to the State Dept?

There are a number of ways to become an international ambassador. You can take those crazy exams and slug your way up the ladder at the State Department, or get really politically active and win a nomination by a candidate you help become president. Harry Connick, Jr. took his own route to ambassadordom: he got really famous and went on a crazy Aussie game show. In response to a misguided parody routine of the Jackson 5 in blackface, guest judge Connick, Jr. rated the performance a zero and went on to explain to a dumbfounded Australian audience that he would not have appeared on the show knowing that this act would be part of the line up. It was, of course, the right thing to do, though the really laudable act was his ability to maintain his composure in a tense moment and clearly explain the problem with the skit. "I just want to say, on behalf of my country,” the singer began, “I know it was done humorously, but we’ve spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart." Ambassadors often take issue with perceived violations, but Harry Connick, Jr.’s actions were particularly notable, both for their spontaneity and the nod of appreciation they gave to the recent advances in American race relations. 10 out of 10 demolished stereotypes. Permalink