Harry Reid didn’t really say anything that we all don’t know for a fact as Americans. America needs to come to grips with its own reality & recognize that we are far from a post racial America. If Obama didn’t come in the package he did- light skinned, Ivy League educated, Cosby/Kennedy style family-he would have had no chance to be president, much like Jesse Jackson, who unfortunately wasn’t like skinned enough, had too many skeletons in his closet & is not really that articulate by any one’s standards- White, Black or other. Yes, the timing was also in Obama’s favor in terms of the state America was in & the Clinton’s exacerbated entitled egos at a time when entitled egos had been the direct cause of America’s slow to elevated demise. Candidate to now President Obama was propped up to be a modern era Black JFK, who would take America out of the Bush Era McCarthyism, where communists had been replaced with terrorists & the global view of America was at an all time low. American once again had to come in from the cold by showing we could embrace change & redefine our global view by electing an African-American this time around instead of an unpresidented Irish Catholic the last time around. The Baton was passed by the last surviving member of the original Kennedy dynasty,Ted Kennedy- Obama took the baton, ran with it & has acted accordingly!
If Obama had a White wife it would have been a lot harder for him to be embraced particularly by the Black & White Americans alike, who still have visions of Emmett Till & OJ running through their heads. It was a lot easier for White Americans to stomach Obama because they could claim him as part of them, as it was for Blacks, Muslims, Christians, Asians, Africans, educated people, bi-racial people, multicultural people, etc. Obama came in the perfect package at the right time to be palatable to many, by being representative of all the divides that were & are still occurring in America, just by pure genetic luck & circumstances of who he is & how he was raised.
I have heard the same types of remarks from White people all over the world, who have found me more palatable because they consider me more African than Black American, more educated & articulate than the stereotypical ” uneducated ghetto Black person”, while at the same time they know very well that I can switch up my dialect by choice -not only in the different languages that I speak, but also in my phonetical expression of the languages that I speak, depending on the company I am in. This is just a fact that goes beyond just race or even geographical & political borders, but depending on who & how it is said it all of a sudden becomes taboo. I have experienced & witnessed this amongst those of the same race & different races in many countries where coloring, dialect & education determines ones class, palatability & acceptance in their specific societies- so I can’t really see where the audible gasps are coming from except for the sake of dramatic affect & delusional blinders.
We have a battle brewing over the census including Negro & are angry about Harry Reid’s “Negro Dialect” remark, when many Black Americans still refer to themselves as Negro & have embraced the word & dictionary of “Ebonics” to define the Black/African-American/Negro dialect of English- so what’s the big deal? For me the only big deal is people like the Democratic party leader Gov. Tim Kaine saying that Harry Reid’s comments were not racist because he was actually being complimentary but just had a poor choice of words, instead of really addressing the core of America’s racial divide which has always used buzz words to differentiate Black Americans as to who & what is acceptable or not. Candidate Obama promised to have open discussions about race after his famous speech on race, as the racial rants of his then minister was about to topple his political career; however since he became president, it seems every time he has had a time to have one of these teachable moments, he quickly brushes it off & says apology accepted & let’s move on. It is understandable that he would want to stay away from anymore of these teachable moments on race after the “beer summit” fiasco & with so much on his plate seemingly in chaos -but we need to stop hiding in the post racial America closet & recognize that while a lot has changed, there is a lot of work to be done particularly in terms of language, perception & understanding of our differences.
There has to come a time when we can have Americans understand the difference between the language of a Trent Lott & a Harry Reid in reference to race that goes beyond the president saying that he “knows what’s in Harry Reid’s heart” & the leader of the democratic party saying that “although the words were chosen poorly that the context was complimentary” being the answer to the difference. There’s a big diffrence between Trent Lott being forced to step down for praising the segregationist views & presidential candidacy platform of Strom Thurmond & Harry Reid saying we have come far enough from the days of Strom Thurmond’s presidential candidacy to be able to elect a Black president, but not far enough to elect one that is not as close to the White ideal as possible. Just saying you know what’s in Harry Reid’s heart & saying he chose the wrong words in the context of trying to be complimentary as the sole reason why Harry Reid should not receive the same fate as Trent Lott is just giving more fodder to partisanship instead of addressing the real issues head on. Language is very important in America because we are not that many years away from the days of Jim Crowe & slavery which made lanuguage very much part of the separation between Black & White.
Black Americas do not help the situation by continuing to use words like Nigger & Negro amongst themselves while screaming racism when White people use the same words/terms to refer to Black people. Is the criteria for racism knowing what is in one’s heart or if they are being complimentary or not? There are still White people like Harry Reid, Trent Lott etc. who grew up in America at a time when words/terms like Nigger & Negro were perfectly acceptable in reference to Black people. I personally am not offended by the word Negro as I am by the word Nigger, hence the confusion because depending on which Black person you speak with the offense may be seen differently. There are still Black institutions utilizing the word Negro, such as The United Negro College Fund & even the C in NAACP stands for “Colored”, & Hip-Hop has brought back the word Nigger/Nigga as a term of endearment – so we have systematically created a lot of our own linguistical burden & confusion by continuing to embrace the same words which once institutionally divided us as a society of separate Americas.
Black people in America must decide once & for all which term is going to define us as a people, starting with the new censuses, then we can perhaps move on to address our own issues of Colorism within the Black community that has existed far longer than Sen. Harry Reid has been alive, hence him stating the facts of our own reality as Americans, where being closer to the White ideal is more acceptable/palatable by both White & Black Americans alike. Let’s get the constant appalled & shocked looks off of our faces & start living in & dissecting our own reality as Americans.