Ralph Nader: Obama “Wants to Talk White”

by Latoya Peterson

It never ends.

Ralph Nader, in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News had this to say about Barack Obama:

Nader was asked if Obama is any different than Democrats he has criticized in the past, considering Obama’s pledge to reject campaign contributions from registered lobbyists.

“There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American,” Nader said. “Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We’ll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards.”

The Obama campaign had only a brief response, calling the remarks disappointing.

Asked to clarify whether he thought Obama does try to “talk white,” Nader said: “Of course.

“I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law,” Nader said. “Haven’t heard a thing.”

Or at least, so says the white Arab-American* man who does not have to worry about people with “low racial sensitivity” mistaking him as a militant reverse hate monger.

And I love that last bit – plight of the poor, inner cities and rural areas are the specific area of black American politicians. Who needs to talk about white stuff like healthcare, Iraq, the economy? Obviously, we missed the memo that Barack is running for President of Blackville, USA.

Nader also added:

“He wants to show that he is not a threatening . . . another politically threatening African-American politician,” Nader said. “He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he’s coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it’s corporate or whether it’s simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up.”

(the Huffington post via Ta-Nehisi)

*Corrected to reflect Nader’s proper background.

**Updated: My apologies readers. I incorrectly identified Ralph Nader as white, and was corrected by a commenter. I did not go back and revise the rest of my post, which included the “low racial sensitivity” joke from the Corbert report which played on the idea of racist people not bothering with Obama. That was not meant as a slam on Nader’s heritage at all, nor was it meant to say that Arab Americans do not deal with racial discrimination in the US – I just neglected to change the joke reference that no longer applies.

I deeply apologize to any of my readers that I may have offended by not paying attention to the full context of the post after I revised it. I promise to do better.

Update 2: Also, a side note – We are not objecting to what Nader meant. We are objecting to what was said – where certain agendas are tied to whiteness and certain agendas are tied to blackness. I believe that the candidate’s plans to attack poverty make it clear what segments of the population they are most familiar with and the problems they are looking to solve.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

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