Why Hillary’s race comments matter
I saw two groups excusing Senator Clinton’s suggestion that LBJ made Martin Luther King, Jr., successful.
The first comprised middle-class white people, who reverted to the rolling of eyes and labeling the controversy “just politics” (the implication being that no sensible person would see the comment as anything significant—along the lines of “these blacks are so touchy!“*) The second set was the older, authoritarian set of African-American civil rights leaders (their implication being “The Clintons are icons; we’ll not allow that talk.”)
A deeper view was offered by author Ishmael Reed
: “[Bill] Clinton was able to seduce black audiences, who ignored some of his actions that were unfriendly, even hostile, to blacks
Reed is brilliant (the headline above is his, for instance), and I encourage you to ponder his entire post, which details the Clinton record, then thumbnails the history of black America’s rocky relationship with white feminism. To pique your curiosity, a couple of excerpts, followed by a video of Hillary’s comments:
|Writing in The Baltimore Sun, I was the first to identify Clinton as a black president as a result of his mimicking a black style. . . . As a result of his ability to imitate the black preaching style, Clinton was able to seduce black audiences, who ignored some of his actions that were unfriendly, even hostile to blacks.
|His interrupting his campaign to get a mentally disabled black man, Ricky Ray Rector executed. (Did Mrs. Clinton tear up about this act?)His humiliation of Jesse Jackson. His humiliation of Jocelyn Elders and Lani Gunier. The welfare reform bill that has left thousands of women – black, white, yellow and brown destitute, prompting Robert Scheer to write in the San Francisco Chronicle, “To his everlasting shame as president, Clinton supported and signed welfare legislation that shredded the federal safety net for the poor from which he personally had benefited.” (Has Ms. Clinton shed a tear for these women, or did she oppose her husband’s endorsement of this legislation?) . . .His administration saw a high rate of black incarceration as a result of Draconian drug laws that occurred during his regime . . . He advocated trade agreements that sent thousands of jobs overseas. . . . He refused to intervene to rescue thousands of Rwandans from genocide . . .His behavior demonstrated that regardless of Bill Clinton’s admiration for Jazz, and black preaching, he and his spouse will go south on a black man whom they perceive as being audacious enough to sass Mrs. Clinton. In this respect, he falls in the tradition of the southern demagogue: grinning with and sharing pot liker and cornbread with black folks, while signifying about them before whites. . . .Having been educated at elite schools where studying The War of the Roses was more important than studying Reconstruction, the under educated white male punditry and their token white women, failed to detect the racial code phrases that both Clintons and their surrogates sent out-codes that, judging from their responses, infuriated blacks caught immediately. Blacks have been deciphering these hidden messages for four hundred years. They had to, in order to survive.
We white Americans have yet to realize that we speak an inherited language tinted with shades of supremacy. Hillary’s failure to get it, and Bill’s subsequent trembling rage against Barack Obama, demonstrate that racial assumptions are still at work that much of America simply cannot see.
* I wrote to a friend this week, “Strange how four hundred years of getting screwed leaves one with a negative attitude.”
Tags: Ishmael+Reed, Clinton+LBJ+MLK, Clinton+race, Obama+race, Clinton+raza, Obama+raza, Las+razas, white+privilege, politics+race, civil+rights, NAACP, SDLC, Clinton+African-American, Obama+African-American, Monte Asbury