The field of candidates for the 2024 GOP presidential primary includes a woman of color - Nikki Haley. I suppose that marks some progress.
However, one of her main messages is that racism in this country is over, which is interesting given that it was only 8 years ago - on Haley's watch as governor of South Carolina - that an avowed white supremacist murdered 9 Black people in church.
But the problem for Haley goes deeper. Almost every time she opens her mouth about the demise of racism, she proves that it is still alive and well. Here's the latest example:
.@BarackObama set minorities back by singling them out as victims instead of empowering them. In America, hard work & personal responsibility matter. My parents didn’t raise me to think that I would forever be a victim. They raised me to know that I was responsible for my…— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) June 16, 2023
Of course, Haley didn't provide any examples of Barack Obama singling our minorities as victims because there aren't any. I'll grant that, like most Republicans, she probably lives in a bubble of right wing news and wouldn't know that some Black liberals like Ta-Nehisi Coates actually criticized the former president for focusing on personal responsibility when speaking to Black audiences. But perhaps Haley should read the piece Coates wrote after Obama's commencement address at Morehouse. Here is the part of the president's speech that he critiqued:
We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you've learned over the last four years is that there's no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there's a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: "Excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness."
We've got no time for excuses—not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven't. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that's still out there. It's just that in today's hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world...nobody is going to give you anything you haven't earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured—and overcame.
As Coates pointed out, that was pretty standard fare for Obama.
But it's hard to imagine that Haley completely missed the speech that launched Obama onto the national political stage - the one at the 2004 Democratic convention - where he said this:
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.
This is the guy Haley said was promoting victimhood instead of empowerment.
Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person. Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” “We The People.” “We Shall Overcome.” “Yes We Can.” That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone.
There is a reason why people so often referred to "no drama Obama." It comes down to the fact that the man is actually allergic to the idea of "victimhood" - always has been.
Nikki Haley would know that if she had ever paid attention to what Obama said/did. But instead she ignored the actual person and projected a mythical stereotype onto him. That, my friends, is the definition of racism.