I won’t spend too much time on this subject, or at least, I’ll try not to. I have spent the weekend debating this topic to the point of frustration. But, since the media, with its knack of sensationalizing stories, has decided to jump on it, I’ll say a few words.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quoted in the book, Game Change, about the 2008 presidential elections, suggesting that President Obama was the right choice because he had “light-skin” and didn’t speak with a “Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”
People, most notably, Conservatives/Republicans are up-in-arms and demanding he resigns. Of course, Republicans and Conservatives don’t care about the “sensitive” feelings of blacks, and this is simply a political ploy by which they can push their agenda. Harry Reid is one of the key pushers of the healthcare bill they dislike so much, so having him out of the way only makes political sense. This same group insist that if Reid, and Clinton, too, were Conservatives, they’d be called racist, so why should Reid, who’s now being backed by Al Sharpton and the Congressional Black Caucus, be exempted from such accusations. However, this post is about those raging people who accuse Reid of being racist, while failing to consider or discuss the veracity of Reid’s words.
I am not shocked by Reid’s words, only by the people who claim to be shocked by it. I did not know it was a secret that part of President Obama’s appeal stems from his biracial heritage and his articulation (the non-Negro dialect). I can’t help but think the people who seem genuinely riled by Reid’s words, besides failing to contemplate them objectively, are really offended by the subtext of statement.
A general truth about Americans underlies his comment. I, for one, don’t think Reid is a racist for saying Obama’s skin tone and speech helped him. I agree with him. He objectively stated the obvious. It’s been no secret that whites, specifically, are more comfortable around blacks who are lighter-skinned and who don’t speak a stereotypical black [American]slang, Ebonics, which has been politically corrected as African-American vernacular, according to Wikipedia.
The “safety” of light-skinned, so-called ‘white-ified’ blacks goes back to slavery and colonialism. The dichotomy existed between the field slaves who were dark-skinned and therefore worked the fields (away from Massa) and the house slaves who were light-skinned (usually the children of Massa) and who lived and worked in the home (close to Massa). The light-skinned slaves served as mediators between the master and his slaves. They were less threatening and more pleasing to white sensibilities than their darker-skinned, more ‘African-looking’ counterparts. This divide has survived to the present day, due in part to white domination of the social and political institutions in any given society. One look at many of the[black] people in the media, and particularly the females, since skin-color issues disproportionately affect females, and it’s clear ‘social selection’ is very real.
When Attorney General Eric Holder suggested Americans were cowards when it came to talking about race, the same “firestorm” ensued, which only proved his point. What is exasperating about the media handling of Reid’s statement, but also Clinton’s statement that Obama would be serving them coffee a few years ago, is the way it’s steering clear of having a real discourse on race, choosing instead to attack Reid, like it attacked Holder.
By the way, Bill Clinton’s comment wasn’t racist either. Clinton’s comment may very well have been expressed disbelief that someone so new to Washington had so much clout already. In any workplace, newbies serve coffee and run errands, and Obama has only been on the national political stage for about five years; when compared to Clinton and others who’ve been there for decades, he’s a newbie. But of course, his sentence conveys two ideas: (a)subservience and (b) skin color. When these ideas are grouped in a statement regarding a decidedly black man, in a country where slavery was a major issue, only the perceived sentiment/slight and not the original intent is considered, and the media has decided the sentiment must be racist. The ludicrous nature of the above statement seems to escape the politically correct pundits and/or ignoramuses who intend to waste another opportunity to discuss race matters logically, by fussing over pedantry. But, he used the word “coffee,” they argue.
I can’t help to consider if the people who sensationalize race-related issues are purposely doing it. Afterall, the only way to make something insignificant is to trivialize it. It has gotten to the point where the term “racist” means nothing to anyone with intelligence. Since talking about race in the U.S. makes a person, by default, racist, perhaps the media is simply practising sensationalization as a means of firewalling itself against nasty and harmful accusations. Anyway, the result is that, once again, Americans are proving Holder correct: they’re cowards. They’re creating topics without a discussion to follow.