Tag Archives: politics

Condoleezza Rice’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Look at the Role of Race in America

by Latoya Peterson

Condoleezza Rice is an intriguing figure to watch as she moves across the national stage.

She held two of the highest offices in the United States – National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

She is a Republican, yet she doesn’t shy away from talking about race, as is the custom for many members of the party.

She was a young prodigy, gifted in the arts and sports, but chose a life immersed in public policy.

Her new book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family traces her life, beginning with her Grandfather Albert Robinson Ray III, then the lives of her mother and father, then her own life, growing up in the segregated South.  Her story flips between idyllic childhood memories of church picnics and piano lessons and terrifying memories of bombings and explosions, Rice chronicles the contradictions of the living in the land of the free, and still living with the legacy of what she terms “America’s birth defect.” Continue reading

Political Open Thread: Election Digest and Dubya Speaks Out

by Latoya Peterson

Last night was rough. I helpeed emcee at Busboys and Poets for Free Speech TV.  (Many thanks to Marc Steiner, for allowing me to be a part of his show!)  It was a very tough evening for a lot of reasons, but it was a good conversation. (Clips are here and here, for those interested.)

However, Busboys emptied out by 11 PM, with a lot of demoralized people cutting off the coverage and heading home. Happily, my last vote for Congressional representation wasn’t in vain – O’Malley defeated Ehrlich and Barbara Milkuski stomped the competition in Maryland. I was going to open the thread for election results and discussion, but then I caught this other headline:

Bush NBC Interview: Being Called A Racist By Kanye West The Worst Moment Of My Presidency

O_o

MATT LAUER: You remember what he said?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I do. He called me a racist.

MATT LAUER: Well, what he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That’s — “he’s a racist.” And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.” It’s another thing to say, “This man’s a racist.” I resent it, it’s not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency. [...]

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes. My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And– it was a disgusting moment.

Y’all, I can’t. Floor is yours.

Political Confessions and Questions

by Latoya Peterson

Under the diversity banner and strategy, what you get is a lot of white organizations “reaching out” to communities of color, to get communities of color to carry out the agenda of these white organizations with all their white leadership have developed. — Rinku Sen, Facing Race Plenary Session

Dear readers, those of you who have been with us for a few years know about the long standing issues I have with the American political machine. Politics is intricately tied to movements for social justice, so it cannot be ignored completely – but it definitely feels like a shell game.

There is a post I need to write about Maria Teresa Kumar’s comments at Facing Race, particularly the part where she explains why people of color need to engage in political organization and action. (Kumar runs Voto Latino with Rosario Dawson.) There is a post I need to write about a panel at Blogging While Brown where Gina talked about how conservatives invest in their bloggers as part of their community, which is a benefit liberal bloggers do not receive.

We are long overdue for some discussions on the intersections between politics and social justice. However, I find myself declining to participate in a lot of political discourse. Part of that is just me – I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, right outside of Washington, DC and the gaps between Washington (where those with power and influence work and play) and DC (where normal folks try to live in the shadow of this power) are in my face all day, every day.

But the other reason why I generally avoid politics is best summed up with Danielle Belton’s post on Representative James Clyburn’s black blogger press junket:

In a fiery presser on Capitol Hill Thursday where he at times seemed visibly frustrated, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn blasted members of the Democratic base who were withdrawing support, money during the Midterm elections. He said those Liberal and progressive critics who get stuck on things like the health care bill not being exactly what they wanted lose sight of the long battle.

See, this is why I’m a registered Independent voter. Continue reading

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Shirley Sherrod, Journolist, the NAACP, and the Tea Party

by Latoya Peterson

Kill the phony mean before it kills you. That the truth is probably somewhere in the middle… that if both sides think you are biased against them it probably means you’re playing it straight… that the extremes on both sides are equally extreme, deluded and irresponsible— these practices have rotted out, and the sooner they are done away with, the better footing political journalism will be on. Just as it should be routine for reporters to ask themselves, “am I showing undue favoritism here, am I slanting my account?” it should be routine to ask, “am I creating a false symmetry here, am I positing a phony mean?”

Jay Rosen

This is mayhem and foolishness!
Niecy Nash

So let me get this straight.

Joe Biden will go on record saying that both he and Barack Obama do not believe the Tea Party is a racist organization.

However, the Obama Administration will not go to bat for Shirley Sherrod, who shared a story about overcoming racial bias, which was manipulated into a false charge of racism.

The NAACP straight up condemned Sherrod (who was speaking at one of their events!) before all the facts were on the table, leading to a semi-apology from the organization. Which means that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was first at bat for white folks unjustly smited by years of black oppression.

Meanwhile, the NAACP was already on the offensive since it had lobbed bombs at the Tea Party, alleging it was a racist organization.

The Tea Party and various conservative outlets responded with an “I know you are but what am I” play, complete with “playing race card” reference.

Then, some fool named Mark Williams thought that was his cue, so he decided to let his racist flag fly with every anti-black stereotype in the book, pretending he was “satirizing” the NAACP.

The Tea Party Federation responded by removing Williams from his post, but other members of the Tea Party Express continue to allege that the NAACP are the “real racists”.

And amid all of this, more emails were published from the now-defunct journolist, advocating charging Republicans with racism as a political strategy to deflect from the attention given to Jeremiah Wright during one segment of the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Where do we even start? Continue reading

How The Left Enables the Right’s Racism: The Obama Rape Comic

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

(TRIGGER WARNING)

Well, this is a fine way for me to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I survived a young Black man raping me when I was five years old, and I’ve been subjected to decades of the stereotype of the Black male rapist and the racism behind it.  So, this cartoon triply triggered my reaction.

Obama As Rapist Cartoon

I rubbed my hands.  I walked away.  I wanted to cry but couldn’t because I was at work when I clicked on the link.  I shook inside, back to that frightened little girl who couldn’t possibly tell my mom the truth about what happened.  (I eventually did, about a decade later.)  I didn’t want to reflect on my experience—not like this.

But there it all was, splayed on my screen, demanding some sort of order, some sort of reason for it all.  To deal with it. Again.

As does the cartoon itself. Why this scenario? Why these stereotypes? Why all the justifications—again? (Yes, the poster said it can’t be racist because the woman is green.)

I’d love to say this cartoon was aimed at me, a Black woman who survived a rape, but I may be a side audience for this.  This cartoon’s intended audience is for people intent on holding onto their unchallenged notion of all Black men—as both capable and very willing to rape, even symbolically.  And their victims are always stereotyped as that embodiment of all that is ideally and virtuously feminine in the US, white women. Even symbolically, such as the paragon of US freedom and rights, the Statue of Liberty.  So, this cartoon is the wet dream—and dog whistle—to those folks who need to believe that a single Black man being president is using that power to rape “their” beloved country and the rights and entitlements this country (ostensibly) offers. Continue reading

Everything Is Not (Not) About Race

by Guest Contributor Christopher Sean Watson

Editor’s Note – Please read the piece carefully – and thoroughly – before commenting. – LDP

After reading an article recently claiming that Tea Party demonstrators, angered over the healthcare bill, were shouting out “nigger” at members of the Black Congressional Caucus, as a Black American, I felt compelled to weigh in. For the past two years, politicians, journalists, bloggers, and political pundits have debated the merits of whether demonstrations against Barack Obama are racially motivated. The fodder was fueled on at least two occasions when former President Jimmy Carter stated that an overwhelming portion of the bitter outcry is racially inclined. With all due respect, Jimmy Carter needs to go back to selling peanuts. Speaking out against a person of color does not make one a racist. Just as speaking out against a woman doesn’t make you sexist, nor does raging against Islam’s radical ideas make you xenophobic.

It’s time for us Black people to stop crying racism every time someone says something mildly critical. We cannot continue to blame “the white man” for our own mishaps and misfortunes, no matter how seemingly institutionalized it appears. Shame on you. What evidence do you have to suggest that well-meaning, hard working, God fearing white Americans revolting against every priority, policy, and decision of this administration are projecting racial animosity? Of course there are a couple of isolated incidents out there, but those incidents aren’t proof in and of themselves, unless there is a significant enough body of examples to suggest a trend or pattern of abuse exists.

Look, I remember all the “misunderstandings” that happened before the election just like everyone else. I remember when McCain ousted a campaign official in Virginia for writing that “if Obama were elected he’d hire rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black and change the national anthem to the “Negro National Anthem…” But, it’s Virginia, folks. What does one expect?

Yes, I do remember when the president of a Republican women’s club in San Bernardino County, CA resigned after sending out that newsletter with Obama’s face on a fake food-stamp coupon surrounded by ribs, watermelon, and fried chicken. What’s so racist about that? Everybody knows that we love watermelon. Continue reading

Did “The Wire” Presage Politics Post-2008?

by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual


Get ready for reason #573 why The Wire was the best television show of the aughts. In the wake of Scott Brown’s upset in the Massachusetts special election for the U.S. Senate, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cycle of politics. I’ve been a pretty steady proponent of the politics of idealism and, borrowing from Tony Kushner, the ethical responsibility to hope, but the aftermath of Martha Coakley’s defeat may test my resolve. Where can I find the blueprint for my incipient cynicism? The Wire, of course!

The Wire’s central thesis was simple: short-term politics and the quest for power kills long-term progress and social justice. From gangs to government, the media to schools, the same rule applies. Everyone, sadly, violates the rule. They think about themselves and the system never gets fixed. This is the fundamental cynicism of The Wire: it perfectly diagnoses how groups and institutions kill hope. Continue reading

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.