Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh Harry...and other random tangents

I am watching MSNBC's Morning Joe, my husband watches so I watch against my will. In the process of reviewing the new book Game Change: Behind the 2008 Election, Harry Reid's comments were front and center. Morning Joe had the good Reverend Sharpton on this morning talking about the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's racialized indiscretion. Sigh... The allegation leveled by the republican co-host is that both the President and the good Reverend consistently forgive democrats for their racialized indiscretions; while someone like Imus is held accountable for his racism. Reverend Sharpton tried to argue that what Reid said, and was forgiven, could not be compared to what Imus said, which was unforgivable. Granted, I am at the beginning of my new relationship with the word Negro, but how in any context is what Reid said...forgivable. I cannot tell others what to forgive, but Joe gave a really good argument that might call both the White House and the NAACP to better examine their 'forgiveness policies'.

I may be missing the point on ALL of this, but why isn't anyone talking about why our President has to make the decision to forgive anyone at all? Morning Joe actually said at one point "Reverend, shouldn't you be more concerned about what those in your own party are saying". The reverend's response, honestly, made absolutely no sense to me but he ended it saying something like "I am concerned...he [Reid] consistently ends up on the right side of important issues..." So saying racialized things about our President is apparently not an "important issue". Moving on...

What President Obama endures as a man of color and the first black president; in particular a mixed race multicultural black president, is heart breaking to me. The reason I specifically mention Obama's mixed race and multiculturalism is because of the particular way those of us who occupy that socio-racial location are called on to be that bridge and to be the forgivers. My empathy for the president comes from being that bridge myself. One day I told my husband I wished I had become a botanist. Many days I feel battered. I study race. I teach race. I mediate race. and I live race. Flowers would just be less painful and less personal. I know what it is like, as do most people of color in social/political positions, to choose moving forward over personal social justice. Why don't we say "America, we are killing this man" or a simple "knock it off it is 2010 damn it". And Reverend Sharpton, I am talking to you too.

It seems to be endless, and I really need to turn the TV off, but I can't. At one point Morning Joe offered up a quote from Bill Clinton to Senator Kennedy; something like "a few years ago this guy would be getting our coffee" wherein Clinton is alleged to be referring to Obama. Even Blagojevich got some play with his comment "I am blacker than Barack Obama" which was simply dismissed by Morning Joe, because...well, "it's Blago". I had to get off my elliptical and throw up. This weird framing of these comments and the lack of empathy for President Obama's emotional well being? If I am throwing up, what is he doing? AND DON'T suggest he has or needs to have a thick skin. Thick skin can only protect the soul from spears that are unable to pierce that skin. Thick skin can only keep you from bleeding in public.

According to the online news magazine Daily Beast("Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid engaged in some serious damage control Saturday, after a leaked passage in an upcoming book said he called Barack Obama a "light-skinned" African American who lacked a 'Negro dialect.'" The good Reverend's position is that within the context of Mr. Reid's entire comment this was not the racialized indiscretion republicans are trying to make it out to be. Lawrence O'Donnell, who suggested playing a tape of Jesse Jackson and Obama to see if there was a difference. "We would hear a certain "black cadence", and Pat Buchanan appear to agree with Rev. Sharpton. Maybe racialized statements about our President is the only place our politicos can build consensus? I need to tell you that my position, since I am not invited on national TV (probably a good thing), is that this comment and all the other comments President Obama has endured - including a few from our black leadership if I am not mistaken - are not okay.

More soon...


  1. I agree. I wonder though, when the average age of Congress is 60 years old, how much of these deep seated thoughts, beliefs, vocabulary is actually there on both sides of the isle. It appears Democrats more than Republicans seem to reject the premise of racism. However, they all have been affected by the White society that raised them during those years. Hopefully, as we progress as a nation and there is turnover in the Congress, we will see less of these verbal transgressions. I certainly hope so. In the mean time, it will not make it any easier for President Obama. I can see his dilemma though. He has a political agenda to move forward. He needs political allies to do that, even if they say racist things sometimes.

  2. Based on recent media exploits, I would say that we are NOT progressing. That is my primary concern. I feel like we have turned back the clock. They say that social trends regenerate themselves, what have we reproduced when we weren't paying attention? My other thought is that with the economic depression, this is when we see the true character of our neigbors.