Open Thread: The Politics of Selling Out

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Joshua posed an interesting question in the thread about Daddy Yankee endorsing John McCain. After initially objecting to the message of the post, he clarified his position, saying:

It is true that this subject is hard to formulate and that is why I like racialicious as a safe place to have open tough discussions. I have been trying to catch up on all your podcasts since I discovered your site a few months ago.

As Marisol latest post on her blog brings up, Fat Joe called DY a sellout, which questions his motivations instead of debating the issues. Here is a reverse for the sake of argument: should a white evangelical southerner be called a sellout if he votes democratic? I say no, because if he is a “sellout” then what does that mean for a minority northern politician and his/her chances. I live in a majority black district in the middle of the bible belt that elected (by 4-1) a liberal white Jew to represent us. If people voted on identity he would have lost, and if America does the same Obama will too.

It’s a provocative point, and one I’ve been mulling over a lot lately.

This all came to a head the night before last where I listened to former Republican Congressman JC Watts defend Barack Obama against the charges of elitism on Roland Martin’s radio show. JC Watts generally towed the Republican party line while in office, so I was kind of shocked to hear him verbalize his disappointments with the party, and directly criticize one of their tactics in praise of Barack Obama. Did he do this out of a sense of fairness? Or out of racial solidarity? Or was he influenced by a mixture of both?

I’ve been toying with a post on how certain actions can be construed as selling out – political party affiliation is high on that list. But can we really conflate party politics with racial politics?

Fat Joe did accuse Daddy Yankee of selling out:

“I opened the newspaper and got sick to my stomach[…]. I felt like I wanted to vomit when I seen that. The reason why I called [Daddy Yankee] a sellout is because I feel he did that for a [publicity] look, rather than the issues that are affecting his people that look up to him. How could you want John McCain in office when George Bush and the Republicans already have half a million people losing their homes in foreclosure? We’re fighting an unjust war. It’s the Latinos and black kids up in the frontlines, fighting that war. … We over here trying to take the troops out of Iraq and bring peace. This guy immediately wants war. If not with Iraq or Afghanistan, he’ll start a new one with Iran. I feel real disgusted that Daddy Yankee would do that. Either he did that for a look, or he’s just not educated on politics.”

And he continued with his statement explaining his philosophy:

[…]

“Like I said, with me, my whole philosophy on blacks and Latinos is: We’re all one[…] We’re in the same ghettos, same inner cities, and we’re suffering from the same problems. Every problem the blacks have, the Latinos have. There’s two systems of health care: the one for the rich that’s really good, then there’s the one for the inner city, where they leave ladies in the emergency room unattended for 24 hours until they drop dead. … People don’t even check on her hours after she’s dead. This is normal stuff. This is what’s happening in the U.S.”

“Why should my man Daddy Yankee be endorsing McCain? This is the only urban guy in the universe to endorse John McCain. You got people who look up to [Yankee] — young teenagers that look up to him and might make the wrong choice. John McCain is the wrong thing to do. I don’t think the Republicans care much about minorities. I can’t believe [Yankee] went and endorsed this guy.”

So, readers, here is where we will begin the conversation. Is there a such thing as selling out, and if so, how do political affiliations play into that process?