Open Thread: Harry Reid, Trent Lott, and Politically Expedient Racism

by Latoya Peterson

Over the weekend, the news broke that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made some ill-advised comments during the campaign in 2008:

Reid apologized to Obama and a handful of black political leaders after a new book reported that he was favorably impressed by Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and, in a private conversation, described the Illinois senator as a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Obama, who tries to steer clear of the political thicket of race and politics, accepted the apology and said he wanted to close the book on the episode. Republicans were eager to keep it open Sunday, comparing Reid’s remarks to those that cost Trent Lott the Senate leadership in 2002 and questioning why there was different reaction now.

Things I hate about this controversy:

1. The tit-for-tat mindset is clearly at play.  Obviously, each comment had different intentions and meanings. (Adam over at Tapped explains this well.)  However;

2. Anyone who is surprised at racist comments from democrats hasn’t been paying attention.  Yes, the comment was racist – and true, which sucks.  It’s clear that many of our lawmakers know exactly how racist our nation is – and are willing to verbalize how they can use racism to their advantage.  No one is on that white guilt shit – there have been too many statements about Obama that reveal the general perception of blacks in the United States.  It makes it all the more frustrating that people feel the need to pretend that the people who shepard our laws into existence are not racist when clearly they are.   It’s just part of the spin game.

3. I hate The Politico for this:

Democrats are preparing to throw the race card back in the laps of Republicans as part of a counter attack designed to help save Harry Reid’s political career.

4. I’ve read entirely too many articles saying “GOP Chairman Michael Steele, who is black…” like we don’t already fucking know.

5. As far as I am concerned, this is all a bunch of bullshit, because as soon as someone figures out what is going to happen to Reid, people are going to keep pretending that race isn’t still an issue in America, when we know it is.

I ranted a bit on Jezebel; drop your thoughts in the comments.

About This Blog

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

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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