Shawn Maxam recaps racist stories from this year’s presidential election.
I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.
― Thurgood Marshall
This list highlights not just examples of bigotry or prejudice but the permutation of systemic oppression through institutionalized racism (macro) to microaggressions - even within the supposedly respectful realm of presidential electoral politics.
I haven’t been able to do these recaps as often as I would like but non-violent symbolic racism just doesn’t stop because I’m now a very busy graduate student. Just to clarify a person’s first amendment right allows them to express their opinions and my first amendment rights allow me to acknowledge how racist how the expressed opinion really is. Let’s dive in.
- George Will and the Affirmative Action of President Obama’s Presidency - Washington Post columnist George Will makes the argument that Pres. Obama is our nation’s political version of Jackie Robinson and this historical blindness is giving him an unfair chance to being elected again because Americans don’t want to “…especially reluctant not to give up on the first African American president.” -In my opinion Will’s collective armchair psychological diagnosis of our nation is quite ridiculous.
Obama’s administration is in shambles, yet he is prospering politically. This may not, however, entirely be evidence of the irrationality of the electorate. Something more benign may be at work.
A significant date in the nation’s civil rights progress involved an African American baseball player named Robinson, but not Jackie. The date was Oct. 3, 1974, when Frank Robinson, one the greatest players in history, was hired by the Cleveland Indians as the major leagues’ first black manager. But an even more important milestone of progress occurred June 19, 1977, when the Indians fired him. That was colorblind equality.
Managers get fired all the time. The fact that the Indians felt free to fire Robinson — who went on to have a distinguished career managing four other teams — showed that another racial barrier had fallen: Henceforth, African Americans, too, could enjoy the God-given right to be scapegoats for impatient team owners or incompetent team executives.
Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant not to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.
- Hanging chairs not hanging chads – For a short while there were individuals openly lynching chairs with nooses in their front yard. The chair is meant to symbolize President Obama a la Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair representing President Obama. I’m sure Eastwood does not endorses such despicable behavior. This is another example of people taking a bad idea and making it not just worse but dehumanizing our President.
- I see
niggersBlack People – Gawker does a solid job of summarizing several instances where people call President Obama the “n word”.
- Slavery was a blessing in disguise - Arkansas State Representative Jon Hubbard released his memoir titled ‘Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative.’ He offers some insight about his opinion that the slavery was really a positive for the descendants of enslaved Africans. Taken from Hubbard’s book:
…the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.
Lest you think this is an abhorrence on Hubbard’s racist views he double downs when he states the following “ Wouldn’t life for blacks in America today be more enjoyable and successful if they would only learn to appreciate the value of a good education?”. Boom goes the dynamite! Thank you for the positive reframing Jon.
- Racist Republican Party vs non-racist Republicans – Ron Rosenbaum does a good job of explaining with great care of how an organization, institution or political party can engage in systemic oppression even if all of its members don’t reflect those values. Rosenbaum explains GOP racism below:
No, I’m not saying all Republicans are racist. I’m saying that as a party, ever since Goldwater and Nixon concocted the benighted, openly racist “Southern Strategy” in the ’60s, the Republican Party has profited from overt and covert racism.
A perfect analogy are the Boy Scouts of America. Their policies are homophobic but that doesn’t mean all the young children and families who participate in the organization support the discrimination of LGBT groups. Multiple truths and ambiguities exist in our country. Let’s kill the simple black-and-white binary talk folks.
Thanks for reading this week.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
Thank you so much for reading, sharing and commenting.