Category Archives: politics

Message to the Candidates: “Black White Whatever” and “That One Bigot”

by Latoya Peterson

I recently had the pleasure of watching two amazing videos that really cut to the heart of the racial issues at play in this election cycle.

The first is “Black, White, Whatever” by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, a ridiculously talented spoken word artist who has appeared on Def Poetry. Her work and bio are found on her website,

In “Black, White, Whatever,” Tsai critiques the missing elements from the candidate’s political speeches – the fact that race in America goes way beyond black and white – and those who fall outside of the binary certainly aren’t just “whatever.” And as she says in the video, “Whatever doesn’t represent me.”

Also of note, from the Ill-literacy site comes a new(ish) YouTube video that really digs into McCain’s infamous “that one” comment from the debates. Unfortunately for McCain, vlogger Adriel Luis provides a hip-hop themed juxtaposition of clips and events detailing what “that one” really means – in the context of remarks and actions taken over the last eight or so years.

(Thanks to Joanna, Kai, and Nezua for the tips!)

Schlepping toward the Ballot Box?

by Guest Contributor Matthew Egan

*Warning: Explicit Language*

(Sarah Silverman’s video for the Great Schlep)

There’s a thing you might have heard about, The Great Schlep.

Behind it is an organization called Jews Vote. Looking at their bios at, they look like pretty great guys. One’s the son of a partisan. There’s a video with Sarah Silverman (see above). If you’ve heard of the project, it was probably from a link to the video.

I like Sarah Silverman.

Sometimes, she fails at what she’s trying to do, and sometimes I think that she needs to put a little more thought into it, but mostly I think a lot of the criticism she gets in undeserved. She does obnoxious, self-absorbed characters you’re not supposed to like. I can understand that it can be hard to get into, but the joke is consistently about herself. On her most infamous joke, I agree with Kate Rigg. The character Silverman portrays doesn’t understand that the word ‘chink’ is still racist even in the context is ‘I love chinks,’ but I don’t think it would be a joke unless both Silverman and the audience both understood otherwise. She wouldn’t have written it if it weren’t about that juxtaposition. I say that mostly to point out that I’ll give Silverman more room than most Racialicious readers would.

However, I have a bit of a problem with her video for The Great Schlep. Not with the goals of getting people to vote for Obama or visit their grandparents. Please, do vote for Obama. And visit your grandparents. I can tell you most Jews are soundly behind those goals. Looking at my own family, my grandfather certainly would have voted for Obama. My grandmother, who said a few racist things in her day, I think would have voted for Obama. My mother and uncle (both in their 60s) will be voting for Obama. I asked my aunt about the campaing, and she started ranting about Palin. And the elderly Jews I know here in New York will all be voting for Obama.

But, when the Silverman video is offered for a general (not exclusively Jewish) audience, which I’ve certainly seen a lot, I feel a need to interrogate it further. As Jackie Mason (who’s rarely the voice of sanity) pointed out, you shouldn’t really threaten to withhold your love from your grandparents to force them to vote the way you want, but to me that’s Sarah being Silverman. She also puts up an image of a large nose to illustrate the word “Jew.” But when she says the Jewish grandparents won’t vote for Barack Obama because he has a scary name that sounds Muslim, that strikes me as more genuine. Isn’t that the point of the entire Great Schlep project? If that’s not the motivation, then why the video at all? And though I don’t think the Jewish nose is meant to racialize Jews, is it perhaps meant to remind us of antisemitism? Well, according to

Everyone knows that Jews vote. By some estimates, 80% of Jews are registered to vote. Among registered voters, Jews tend to vote at twice the rate of the typical voter. In certain swing states, Jewish votes can make a significant difference between victory and defeat.

In presidential elections, when choosing between a more progressive candidate and a more conservative candidate, Jews overwhelmingly choose the more progressive candidate. Between 1924 and 2004, Jews have given their vote to the more progressive candidates at an average rate of 76 percent. In fact, none of the more conservative candidates has ever mustered more than 40 percent of the Jewish vote, while more than half received less than 20 percent. But do Jews really make a significant difference between victory and defeat?

Given this history, why is Barack Obama hovering at 60 percent of the Jewish vote, according to three separate polls? Is this all the product of a highly effective rumor campaign, spread through Jewish networks often by well-meaning individuals concerned that they information they received was true? Or is there something more?

I think that confirms me suspicions that this well-meaning project is based on some distorted ideas. Continue reading

GOP Women’s Group President: Obama’s Image Will Be on Food Stamps

by Latoya Peterson

Yeah, that about says it all.

From the California based paper, the Press Enterprise:

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women’s group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

Now, normally, something like that would just make me shake my head in disgust. But actually, the next reported paragraph made me smile.

The GOP newsletter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group by e-mail and regular mail last week, is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.

Thank you, members. Call things what they are. This is racist. But of course, the publisher of the newsletter doesn’t see it that way at all:

The group’s president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club’s meeting next week. She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African-American he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

“It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don’t want to go into it any further,” Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn’t my attempt.”

Fedele said she got the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to reprint it for her members in the Trumpeter newsletter because she was offended that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She declined to say who sent her the e-mails with the illustration.

Did you catch that? She was offended Obama would draw attention to his own race, so she decided to reprint a racist illustration. And how dare he state the obvious? The nerve of him! Continue reading

Open Thread: The Final Debate

Whoo…glad that’s over. This debate was far better than the last one – I just think I’ve got election fatigue.

Lots of good points were mentioned, we actually got some new ground covered in this debate. I was shocked they mentioned abortion at all (not to mention the quick equal pay reference), though the actual conversation was disappointing.

Here’s a transcript of the debate if you missed it, or if you’re like me and accidentally slept through the first half.

Interesting mention of “class warfare” as well.

And with that, the floor is open.

How We Are Getting Racists to Vote for Obama

by Guest Contributor SuzeNYC, originally published at Daily Kos (SuzeNYC’s Diary)

Yesterday, I spent the day canvassing with friends for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. It doesn’t matter where it was. It could have been any number of cities all over our country. I am shocked by my experience.

I’ve been working as a volunteer for almost a year and a half for this campaign and I have encountered a fair amount of people’s racism around Barack. I’m a white 44 year old woman. My support for Barack has meant that I’ve been spat upon, physically attacked, called terrible names, cussed at and, of course, had the door slammed in my face by people using the “N” explicative.

[UPDATE: It was brought to my attention in the comments that I am misrepresenting the canvassing experience and there is truth to that. While petitioning and registering voters on the streets, or while doing visibility on primary days I had most of those negative experiences. They were all completely un-provoked. I was wearing an Obama button and a smile. The only thing negative that has happened while canvassing is having doors slammed and being scared by dogs from behind a fence. On to the next door.]

As this campaign has progressed I always felt that it was a given that a certain percentage of Americans are racist and we just don’t worry about losing that vote because we never had it. We make up for that by registering tons of voters and making sure that they get to the polls. This is the work I’ve been doing with my band of friends who I’ve met through the campaign.

Well, yesterday that presumption disintegrated. Continue reading

Race in the Election…in Canada!

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

SURPRISE! Canada is having an election this year too!

However, wily characters that we are, our election was called as recently as September 7, and we’re still going to beat our American neighbours to the polls when we vote next week. However, that’s basically it for pluses when it comes to Canadian politics: advance polls are saying that we will most likely end up with a Conservative majority. *

On Tuesday my friend Leslie sent me this Globe and Mail article on “sophisticated new methods” that parties are turning to in order to figure out how to lure in those mysterious “ethnic” voters.

For the first time in a federal election, three of Canada’s five main political parties are using a sophisticated new micro-targeting voter-profile tool, which outlines people’s ethnicity, social values and income level, cross-referenced with their political support.

The tool, developed by Environics, allows political strategists to fine-tune their message for voters at the neighbourhood level, helping candidates win key battleground ridings in Ontario and British Columbia, many of which have large ethnic communities.

“This tool not only gives you the big picture, but goes to a riding level and tells you which percentage of voter groups live in the riding and whether ethnicity is an issue,” said Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics.

There is a sudden demand for multicultural research tools such as this one, as Canada’s ethnic communities grow in size and political importance. Now that immigrants no longer vote exclusively for the Liberals, all parties are reaching out to them.

Please note the equation of “ethnic communities” with “immigrants.” In case you are foggy on the Canadian history: similarly to the US, people of colour have been living in Canada for almost as long as white folks have. Sure many people of colour in Canada are recent immigrants, but many (especially in Western Canada) have been here for generations.

“It’s a numbers game. The election can turn on a dime. Ethnics play a key role in this and happen to be living in the ridings that are close,” said David Crapper, president of Genesis Public Opinion Research Inc., the Conservatives’ official pollster in the 2006 election.

Goodness, “Ethnics” playing a key role in an election? What is the world coming to??

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Open Thread: How Did You Come to Your Political Beliefs?

by Latoya Peterson

While I was reading the Hypen blog, I came across an interesting tidbit posted by Asiana. Apparently, Asiana just discovered Michelle Malkin (good luck with that!) and wrote a post exploring her confusion with Malkin’s politics and policies.

There are many other Malkin gems that make me so confused. All of which prompts me to ask the following: How does a child of immigrants become a staunch supporter of anti-immigration legislation? How does a brown person fully wrap herself in Anglo ideals, like the radicalization of non-white cultures? How does a Filipino American proudly let go of her roots and ignore the complexity of her identity?

Her post got me thinking about a lot of things, but the prevailing theme was wondering how does someone come to their political beliefs? Obviously, it is a combination of how we were raised, life experiences, and the changing times. And yet, it is interesting to me to see how differently people can interpret the same events.

So, readers, what influenced your political views?

[Side Note: Everyone here is registered to vote, right? Deadlines are fast approaching!]

Race/Politics Overflow

by Latoya Peterson

Some short items that I found in my inbox/bloglines reader over the last few days:

It was reported that Sandra Bernhard called Sarah Palin a “turn coat bitch” and said she “would be gang raped by blacks in Manhattan.” Gawker writes:

“[The gang rape comment] is part of a much larger, nuanced and, yes, provocative—that’s what I do—piece from my show about racism, freedom, women’s rights and the extreme views of Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman who doesn’t believe that other women should have the right to choose,” Bernhard said.

We didn’t immediately post on this, as I was able to find some quotes from the piece, but no one who could directly quote the “big black men” comment – most of the direct quotes from Bernhard revolved around the Old Testament and Palin’s “new Goyish crappy shiksa funky bullshit!”

Well, according to MSNBC, she now claims “she never used the term “rape” or “gang rape,” although she couldn’t recall the exact words she had spoken, explaining it was an improvisational act.”

No explanation of why she chose to include a black stereotype in her “nuanced” view of “racism, freedom, and women’s rights.” (Via Feministing.)
Continue reading