Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Cornocopia of Reactions to Recent Events

I have these lofty ambitions to blog daily or even multiple times throughout the day in response to current events, but like I said in the previous post, I am on my post-Graduation break and I am just pooped. But now I am overflowing with commentary about everything from the new bestseller Game Change and all of its controversy to the Haiti crisis. This blog will serve as a way for me to let off some steam, because the last couple of days have ranged from completely outrageous to some of the most tremendous outpouring of humanitarian effort I have seen in years... Enjoy!

Harry Reid... Oh how I feel bad for you to a certain extent! The only thing that saved your face was the an unfortunate act of nature. Once again, the issue of race has been infused in the news at such a high rate and this time it has to do with the comments made my Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, that he supposedly made in 2008 in regards to then presidential nominee Barack Obama. While others have gone to extremes demanding that Reid resign from his post, I think most people are missing the mark and making a controversy out of some real talk. When I initially heard about the comments, I figured Harry Reid must be insane for calling President Obama "light skinned" and claiming that he has "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." No, seriously, the Senate Majority leader, a long-time Democrat said that? Yeah, I could believe it. But much to my dismay, the quote was presented to me (and more than likely you as well) out of context. I firmly believe that Reid was making social commentary on the American electorate rather than expressing his personal opinion. So this is what I got out of it... The American public thought that Obama was more electable because of the said traits. Is that bad? Yes and no. I am glad that the American public has moved past our poor history and would be courageous enough to vote for a Black president, but the problem is that good old skin tone conversation. Every ethnic person's favorite topic: colorism. I am being factious, of course. Yes but colorism: the internal strife between people of color over the pigmentation of our skin and being closer to the White norm. Everyone is aware of colorism and Reid's comment plays into the fact that even Whites, the majority of the American electorate, would be more comfortable with Obama because of that. The conversation truly shouldn't have been on why Reid said what he said, but why we still think like that in the 21st century. The whole "Negro dialect" can be seen the same way. It's amazing that people still find it astounding when Black Americans don't "shuck and jive" and speak with good grammar. We shouldn't applaud Obama and all the other people of color for being articulate. We should demand that from everyone, regardless of race. (Personally, I think the funny part is the latter portion of the "No negro dialect" comment about him not wanting to have it unless he wanted too. It reminds me of what comedian Dave Chappelle said about every Black American [and I would extend that out to all folks of color] about having 2 voices: your normal voice and your job interview voice. It's good stuff. Look it up!) And while President Obama did say that he used some "unartful" language to praise him, he and several prominent Black leaders/politicians have come to the defense of Reid. Honestly, I think the progressive base understands that and the GOP went to such an extent to publicize the comments, because they knew they would stir up a controversy. Why would they do that? It's simple. Divide and conquer. It's just a well known fact that the majority of Black Americans are either Democrats or sympathize with the political party, and if the top Democrat in the Senate is "exposed" as a racist then negative feelings would start brewing about the party. The lesson is that you simply have to watch what you say and how you say it. Make sure what you say is in its proper context, because it seems like there will always be someone there to bring you down and misconstrue your words.

On the other hand, I don't know what was the purpose of the Game Change authors when they included some of the comments in their book? Was it to create drama based off the hotly contested presidential race of 2008 and sell tons of copies of their tell-all book? Maybe so, but including the Reid and Clinton comments in the book created a political distraction from an already overloaded administration and legislative body. I care more about the economic rebound, job creation programs, and health care reform than some unsourced comments made by Reid and former President Clinton. Nor about how we once again know that Sarah Palin was highly unqualified and how Hilary Clinton may have assumed that she was the nominee to early. I'm sorry! It's just what it is. I love history/politics and I think looking back the political atmosphere of that time is important, but it just got a bit out of line. Clinton's comments about "a few years ago Obama would have been fetching him coffee" [paraphrased from the original comments in the book, which were already paraphrased] to Senator Kennedy were naturally construed as racist by many. Maybe I am simply naive and youthfully idealistic, but I thought it was an comment on Obama's age/experience rather than a racial statement. It's so easy to go so negative when you hear things like this, but give former President Clinton the benefit of the doubt. We don't exactly know what he intended when he said it, so I'm not pulling the race card and calling him foul.

But who is foul is the disgraced former Illinois governor Blagojevich. His comments about being "Blacker than Obama" are just ridiculous, but I wouldn't even say racist. Again, I look at his statement as social commentary rather than writing him off as a bigot. I don't have a problem with people wanting to empathize with a certain community because of the plight of many of their individual members, but Blago seems to have come up with the notion that all being Black is nothing more than a struggle and being poor. As a Black American, I resent that. My community is full of a tremendous amount of love and strength, despite the systemic discrimination that has held many of us back and a history in this country that includes outrageous crimes against humanity. And that's just the truth. Being Black is not a somber song! It is something that I wear with pride and won't allow others to define. Blagojevich's upbringing many not have been peachy-keen and I am sorry for that, but it doesn't entitle one to claim some kind of "Blackness" out of it simply because you weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth. It's disrespectful to not only every Black American, but more importantly and specifically, to the President and his family for working so hard for him to achieve what he has over the years. And the whole "shoe-shining" reference, really? I don't even think we would want to go there. So his comments were possibly mis-worded or maybe he thought it was humorous, but his plight is the plight of the poor (which is debatable considering the fact that he said his dad OWNED a business, so he was likely working class). Equating that said plight with the Black identity is part of the reason why there is such a lack of racial progress in this country. People don't feel the need to come up or others are trying to keep you down! Kudos to you Blago!!!

And despite all of this political bickering and tomfoolery, the true plight of poor was seen in Haiti this week after the massive earthquake on Tuesday. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has been devastated due to the 7.0 quake and truly exposed how rampant the poverty in the country is. Devastation upon devastation. It's an unfortunate situation. But despite the sad situation, I am really impressed by the response of the American government and the American citizenry to help our neighbors of the region. We are once again showing the world how generous we are and that in times of emergency Americans are ready and easily mobilized to assist. Now, we can also help Haiti in the rebuliding process of the country to bring prosperity to the island nation and lift its population out of extreme poverty. And yes, I am fully aware of the comments that Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh have made, but I don't want to give them anymore attention for such hateful garbage. Keeping it positive. Big shout-outs to Wyclef Jean and Pras for leading in the Haitian relief efforts, and everyone continue to do all that you can to assist our fellow brethren and sistren!!! Solidarity of the Americas!!!! Yes, today we are all Haitians! L’union fait la force!!! Unity is strength!!! Thanks to the One Campaign for that!!!!

Peace and love,