Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obama's "you didn't build that" a lesson in white privilege

The Republicans are stepping up the attack on President Obama's "you didn't build that" statement by saying that the context actually makes the statement worse. Here's an ad the RNC put out yesterday to demonstrate.

When I watched the isolation of this part of the President's remarks, it struck me that this is a message that most people of color in this country understand from day one because what he's alluding to (especially when he talks about the fact that there are a lot of hardworking smart people out there) is essentially white privilege. Its another way of saying "you were born on third base and thought you hit a tripple." The inference of his remarks is that there are a lot of smart hardworking people who DON'T make it.

I'm not suggesting that white privilege is what President Obama was consciously addressing. But as a black man in this country, this awareness about all the smart hardworking people who don't make it is a fact that he lives with every day. The American dream has always come with caveats to African Americans. But its a very hard thing for many white people to acknowledge.

With that awareness, I'm beginning to understand why the President's remarks hit such a sore spot. Even this veiled reference to white privilege (a reverse dog whistle if you may) is more than they can handle.


  1. that's so crazy. I'm watching the ad, nodding at what the president is saying..and somehow the RNC believes they heard an insult in there. Wha? I must have republican talking point blindness. I literally can not see what their point is.

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