Saturday, August 9, 2008

Black or White -- It Still Comes Down to Racism

There are two interesting Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times today and I have to agree with Bob Herbert, whether you cover politics these days or just follow them, you need to keep a bottle of Pepto-Bismol handy. His article looks at a congressional race in Tennessee where a black woman lawyer, Nikki Tinker, challenged the Jewish congressman, Steve Cohen and she used every dirty trick in the book, including race, of course, but fortunately none of them worked and Cohen’s district rallied around him. He won 80% of the voters.

Like Charles M. Blow in his article, I keep wondering why, if this country is so desperate for change, then why is this race in a statistical dead heat? Racism has only diminished in the younger generation, but not necessarily in the remainder of the country. They may not talk about it as openly as they once did or as Obama himself said “resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company”, but when those people walk into the privacy of the voting booth it’s quite likely to be a whole different story.

Why do we find it so difficult to put racism behind us? What on earth is it that we find so threatening? Believe me, the blacks of this world put their pants on exactly the same way the whites do, they go to school, they work, they raise families, they care about their communities, they strive to better themselves and their children. Of course, there are those who do drugs, who belong to gangs, who never finish school, abandon their children. But guess what? There are whites that do exactly the same thing. So, I ask again, where are we so different that we need to fear someone whose skin is a shade darker than ours? Obama has pulled himself up and has achieved so much in his relatively young life. Does he have faults? Undoubtedly, doesn’t everyone whether they admit to them or not. Has he associated with some questionable people at one time or another, probably? But, again, haven’t we all at some time in our lives possibly associated with someone with a questionable reputation? Does that mean we became like them?

Yes, I have lots of questions, but they’re not necessarily just for Obama, but for the rest of us. We need to be asking some questions these days, but of ourselves first of all.


Mortart said...

Very well put! Too bad your attitude is not more widely shared. If it were, there would be far less unpleasantness in life.

patsy said...

racism is alive and well in this country. I have talked to people who the jew even tho' they don't any.
black racism steams from the start of this country and the civil war stoped slavery but the hate goes on. now muslim has felt the racism since 911.
We must not for get the chiness and the brown race all are vitimes of racial hate.
my father said once racism and hate depended on where you lived.
ever group has a race hate for another gruop.
less we forget the American Indian come in hater where they live.
can this change perhape the younger people can over come this.

patsy said...

should said "who hate the jews even tho' they don't know any."

Judy said...

I don't hate anyone and I am the first to admit that I have associated with the wrong people, done the wrong thing and am not any different from anyone else and neither is Obama. I don't think the color of ones skin has anything to do with the person they are.

Rain said...

It's just too bad we cannot judge people by their actions when we have to judge. Skin color has no meaning. Cultures sometimes can depending on the different ways life is interpreted.

Velvet Sacks said...

I've heard a couple of TV journalists speculate that there may be a bloc of voters who say they're going to vote for Obama but won't really do it. That seems bizarre to me. In the pockets of racism that still exist in certain parts of this country, I think it's far more likely that there are people who don't talk openly about their support of Obama but who will vote for him just the same.

Personally, I'm pleased as punch to support Obama for president. If we, the people, screw up this opportunity to change the status quo in Washington, shame on us.

But you know what else I've thought about? Obama has too much energy to keep his ideas to himself, and he's too gifted at leadership and inspiration not to continue to motivate us. I think he'll play a significant role in re-shaping this country whether he's elected or not. Being president will just make it a whole lot easier. Let it be so.

Anonymous said...

The other day the Wall Street Journal did an artical about whether or not Barack Obama's skinniness would be a liability in the campaign?

Timothy Noah over at had this to say.(

Here is an excerpt:
"When white people are invited to think about Obama's physical appearance, the principal attribute they're likely to dwell on is his dark skin. Consequently, any reference to Obama's other physical attributes can't help coming off as a coy walk around the barn. The sad fact is that any discussion of Obama's physical appearance is going to remind white people of the physical characteristic that's most on their minds."

Ultimately race is going to play a bigger an bigger role in this election. Now we have this Slate Magazine "journalist" telling us that referring to Obama's weight somehow constitutes a comment about his being black. This is honestly what this election has come down to. It is all about skin color. There will be virtually NOTHING that anyone can say about Barack Obama that will not, if negative, be about race.

You think this is bad during the election? Wait until he's president! Any disagreement with any Obama policy will be race based. Racial polarization? You haven't seen anything yet.

Velvet Sacks said...

Pepper, I understand that racial polarization may keep some people from voting for Obama, and you may be right that if he is elected, there will be those who will interpret any negative comments as racism. In my opinion, both of those groups are on extreme ends of the spectrum.

The thing is, if Obama is elected, negative comments won't affect him nearly as much as they do at this stage of events. For example, look how much print and air time have been given to the subject of George Bush's stupidity. I and many others have complained about that regularly for nearly eight years, and it hasn't made a bit of difference in the way he's continued to run the country. If I've been able to suck up W's ignorance for that long, I'm sure the racists in this country can suck up Obama's 50% blackness and deal with it.

K. said...

Um, Pepper, Noah's article was satiric. You don't have to take it literally.