Thursday, December 26, 2013

Racism: "America will not elect two African Americans in a row"

When white people find themselves in uncomfortable discussions about racism, they'll often say things like "I don't see race," usually followed up by a vow of allegiance to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Of course the idea that we can be colorblind is a lie.  Even though the whole concept of "race" is based on an unscientific illusion, we've all be conditioned our whole lives (both consciously and unconsciously) to "see" race.

Don't believe me? Then check out this conversation I had recently on Daily Kos in one of the endless discussions amongst liberals about who the Democratic presidential candidate will be in 2016. I mentioned that if Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick ran, I'd support him 100%. The immediate reply I got had nothing to do with his record or policies. Short and sweet, it was "America will not elect two African Americans in a row." End of story.

Now just imagine if that had been the reaction to John Adams exploring the possibility of running for president after George Washington..."America will not elect two white people in a row." Come on people! We had 43 white guys in succession before Barack Obama broke through. But now that we've given you black folks one, its time to go back to the default mode. We're SOOOO done with that "black thing." Never mind exploring the "content of their character." If one of the best candidates has black skin, ain't gonna happen.

I don't know if Gov. Patrick is going to run or not. All I'm saying is that if he did - he's got a helluva record to run on. To simply dismiss him because this country is still too steeped in racism to even consider two black presidents in a row is clearly an example of how far we still have to go to live out King's dream.

9 comments:

  1. I'd not thought of Deval Patrick - did not know he might be interested - but oh WOW would I be interested! PBO is the best president of my lifetime. He embodies values AND policies I have longed to see implemented. If Gov. Patrick is as good, then why would his RACE matter to me, an aging white woman? If we are so stupid that we cannot care more about the policies and practices of our candidates, then we will keep electing inferior people along with the good ones. That's just dumb. I don't know a lot about the Governor, but I'm now seriously paying attention, thank you. I'm NOT enchanted with Hillary, so having a good alternative who will keep moving forward with what this president has done is exciting. I will pay attention, thank you.

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  2. I'd totally get behind Deval Patrick, but I thought he said his wife was very much opposed to him continuing to hold public office and that he was going back to the private sector when his term is up.

    So what if someone dismisses him out of hand because of his race? People dismissed Barack Obama, too. People dismiss Joe Biden and HRC because of their ages. People dismiss the entire GOP field because they're crazy. Who cares what reasons arm-chair pundits give for dismissing any candidate for any office? Why do we need anyone to accept our preferences?

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    1. I'm not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that we shouldn't bother to talk about how race is still a factor in these kinds of things? If so...count me out on that one.

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    2. No, I'm not suggesting that we stop talking about race being a factor in anything. It's just that if we get in a huff every time someone dismisses a candidate for any reason, then we're going to wear ourselves out and it's not even 2014 yet. I think people are allowed to have their opinions about candidates, no matter if we agree with them or not. I'm saying it's okay to let someone dismiss a candidate because of any reason: age, gender, race, party affiliation, stupidity...doesn't make them right. Doesn't make the wrong either. Battling with people who think they have their pulse on the American Public's opinion is an exercise in futility. The American people are funny that way: they vote for the person they like best, no matter what their package looks like or how their name is spelled or even what religion they are. Whoever it was at Daily Kos isn't any more well-informed than anyone else about who could get elected. Are we going to go after every racist, ageist, sexist, sectarian, egotist who bloviates about politics? I'd rather let them blabber away and spend my time working for the candidate of my choice, if there even is anyone in the race two years hence I can support.

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    3. This is how we learn to "see" racism - in others, but mostly in ourselves.

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  3. I'll take the Black or old dudes over the stone crazy ones any day of the week! We did that. Look how well THAT worked out.

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  4. Thank you, Smartypants. You get it. How the hell does the commenter know what America will do? That wimpiness is why they can't make progress. You'd almost think that a guy with the middle name Hussein wasn't enthusiastically reelected. The demographics don't favor people that have problems with non white leadership. They're dead weight at this point when it comes to presidential elections. How will things look in 2016? The party had better not fall in line behind the Clintons. What makes people think that Hillary will turn into some kind of angel? She should've done that against the rookie in 08.

    Vic78

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  5. I would like to see a Democratic woman elected in my lifetime. I think Hilary would be good enough, and with a truly liberal Congress I see no reason why she would not sign legislation that is more liberal than she is, but I would be happy with whoever won the primary.

    But, racism on the left is much more virulent than most on the left think it is and being "colorblind" is a most pernicious form of racism--- it says, "I'll ignore all the slings and arrows of your outrageous fortune and consider you to be equal to me by pretending that you're not a minority. I'll just erase your history and your experience, and will not bother to look within myself for the purpose of changing my own views because (I pretend that) I don't "see" the color of your flesh, and people seeing the color of your flesh is the problem, right?" Yeah, 'As far as my eyes are concerned you're white' is not an enlightened point of view. It's cowardice and callow disregard.

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  6. I'm a little late to this, but an interesting back and forth between you and Tien Le. And, I appreciate both of your perspectives.

    To me, what Tien Le presents may well, indeed, be, were one to be a "regular" person, the way to contend with it. However, in terms of what you, Nancy, are doing on this blog, you're not a "regular" person.

    There is, as Tien Le is suggesting, NO WAY that I'd go over to Daily Kos and attempt to engage almost any of them in any kind of conversation. And, CERtainly not a debate about race.

    But, that's some of what this blog is about. I stated this in a comment a few recent pieces back, but that attitude about what America won't do (interesting how the goal post got moved, no? first, it was America would NEVER elect a black President. after electing one TWICE, it's nowwww America wouldn't elect two in a row) stated from proverbial "Liberals" is one of the main things that ticks black, and other "racial" minorities as well, off. A goodly number of "Liberals" think they know so doggone much about it. Joan Walsh comes to mind. There are certainly more. Booman right now has a piece up in which (now, I'll confess that I didn't read the whole thing because I came across a sentence, it turned me off, and I stopped reading because I've seen him do this before) in which he seems to be saying that he agrees with the author - who is talking about PBO - but that the over-all tone is too shrill and, the money phrase, there was "too much emphasis on race". Then, he turns right around and questions "his" NYT re: a piece on the Obamas Christmas time approach to church practices and wonders, correctly, why this is news. But, limits his statement of what the purpose of the piece might be to stirring up dust about PBO being Christian. And doesn't dig but another microfiber deeper into what is fueling the continual need to invalidate this man. That might be putting too much emphasis on race, though (yep. sarcasm).

    So, I s'pose I'm saying that, to me, and I've CERtainly said it any number of times, Nancy has a role and some of that involves doin' that mess that many of us correctly see the futility in, but, because she does it, we wind up having, over-all, VERY good conversations that increase our understanding of one another. Therein, there are DEFinitely some "Liberals" (some of whom publish) who, clearly, don't know as much as they think they do and, if, as is needed, we are gonna stay together as a coalition and continue to perfect our Union, they are gonna have to not be as dismissive and become more respectful. Case in point...

    Hopefully, SOMEbody is telling Hilary the truth about her VERY undisciplined husband. Because of him and her talking about the 'good, hard working, white people of Pennsylvania', and a few other things, she has a LOT of work to do.

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