I think most people, especially in the media, won’t criticize President Obama because of the color of his skin – Che Guevara
It was not until I got older that I realized that it is not illegal to hold racist or bigoted feelings (That is until Hate Crimes came along). One of the most basic objectives of the Civil Rights Movement was to make it ILLEGAL (<- That’s a correction )to discriminate; to violate a person’s civil rights on the basis of race, ethnicity, etc. One might absolutely loathe a particular ethnic group or a race of people, but as long as you treat everyone fairly under the law, you are “A-Okay.”
In an earlier post, I ranted about White Guilt and how I believe it played a major role in getting Barack Obama elected and then re-elected. I prefaced that someone voting for, or against, a candidate because of the color of their skin, is participating in a behavior in which there mind is still shackled to the racial prejudices that the Civil Rights Movement fought so hard against. Not only that, but this racially motivated voting was in direct opposition to the philosophy espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The very notion of voting for someone as a form of penance for the history of racism in the United States, is the Side B of the same Racial Coin.
Shelby Steele said, “But there is an inherent contradiction in all of this when whites, especially today’s younger generation, proudly support Obama for his post-racialism, they unwittingly embrace race as their primary motivation. You’re never critical to him in any way. If you were free of race, you would not judge him culturally. You would judge him politically… You’d look at his position on social security, on all these mundane, boilerplate issues that presidents actually have to deal with, his economic policies. You never want to see that. You are consumed by race. That’s the, I don’t know if tragedy is the word, but it certainly is an irony.”
Once in office, President Obama has received numerous accolades and fawning press coverage. With such praise from the media and the entertainment industry, there has been very little criticism of the President from people with political ideologies to the right of Joseph Stalin. This phenomenon amused me and I knew back then the reason for such a media blackout. President Obama, like all Presidents, has his fair share of failures, mishaps and false promises. However, absent on my T.V screen was the rabid opposition towards the ongoing conflict with Syria. Where was the anti-war Hollywood crowd? And why weren’t they foaming at the mouth with anti-war fervor like they did when President Bush was in the Oval Office?
I knew it then and I know it now. It is my contention that to refuse to criticize President Obama because of the color of his skin is, in essence, a practice in racial discrimination. I was confused yet again because, according to the New York Times’ new class of race, WHITE HISPANIC, they unwittingly made President Obama a WHITE African-American. You might be rolling your eyes at the notion; most people usually do when I rant about anything. Though, in my defense, I am not the only person who thinks that President Obama is shielded from criticism do to the color of his skin pigmentation. Like all artists, I simply borrowed an idea and made it my own.
Case in point, consider for a moment the rapid anti-war activist, Ed Asner. You might remember Ad Asner from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I actually don’t remember him from the Mary Tyler Moore Show and I have not scene one episode, #disgrace. I know, I get it! If you are like me, you might know him as Santa Clause from the holiday classic Elf or as Carl in the Pixar movie UP! Back in the day, you could find Ed Asner ferociously protesting against the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq. But in the wake of the Syrian conflict,images like this aren’t quite enough for Asner to raise his blood pressure past the point of indifference.
In fact, many of the Hollywood anti-war protesters of yesteryear are largely absent from the discussion. Could it be that they have all the sudden become camera shy? Possibly. Has their skin become too sensitive for the spotlight? Maybe so. But the Hollywood Reporter has another theory. They stated, “Another reason some Hollywood progressives have been reticent to speak out against war in Syria, according to Asner, is fear of being called racist. “”A lot of people don’t want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama,” he said.””
Based on Asner’s statement, his public image trumps dyed in the wool principles, and Dr. King’s dream is yet again postponed until further notice. Going back to Shelby Steele, I can only imagine the conversation he would have with Asner:
I do not remember when the first time I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, I Have a Dream, but I do remember taking his words seriously: Judge not by the color of skin but by the content of character! Am I perfect? Of course I am. Based on my temperament, experiences and personality, I have prejudices against all races, including my own. On the surface, I don’t like people in general. But I am not aware of an honest person in the world who does not have certain preconceptions about any group of people. Then again, I am not collecting bounties on how many “racist” people I can find in the world.
But what is hard to get people to see is that acting out of a racially ridged mindset, no matter how you flip it, is wrong. Think of being racially obsessed like a coin. The Racial Coin if you will!
On the one side you have Bull Connor (Google him, I don’t have time). This side of the coin represents the classical form of racism which leads to discrimination. This type of racism, in the action of discrimination, oppresses, demeans, subjugates, and dehumanizes people.
On the other side, you have the new form of racism in the form of guilt/pandering. In this country, White Guilt is the nicer looking racism. Going back to Shelby Steele again (Yes, I am currently stalking him) he says that White Guilt takes on this form: In 1955 the killers of Emmett Till, a black Mississippi youth, were acquitted because they were white. Forty years later, despite the strong DNA evidence against him, accused murderer O. J. Simpson went free after his attorney portrayed him as a victim of racism. The age of white supremacy has given way to an age of white guilt—and neither has been good for African Americans.
He says in his book, “What is white guilt? It is not a personal sense of remorse over past wrongs. White guilt is literally a vacuum of moral authority in matters of race, equality, and opportunity that comes from the association of mere white skin with America’s historical racism. It is the stigmatization of whites and, more importantly, American institutions with the sin of racism. Under this stigma white individuals and American institutions must perpetually prove a negative–that they are not racist–to gain enough authority to function in matters of race, equality, and opportunity. If they fail to prove the negative, they will be seen as racists. Political correctness, diversity policies, and multiculturalism are forms of deference that give whites and institutions a way to prove the negative and win reprieve from the racist stigma.”
So how does Ed Asner reconcile his fear of appearing anti-black with the legitimate disagreements he has with President Obama? It’s tricky because one deals with character and one deals with perception and character is usually the road less traveled, and if Asner comes out ferociously against President Obama, Chris Matthews might call him a racist.
If you are still plagued with guilt, then listen to the words
of Frederick Douglass:
In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us…. I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … Your interference is doing him positive injury. – Frederick Douglass, The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.
I would say to Ed Asner and to anyone who is oppressed by White Guilt and is afraid to criticize President Obama, be free! If you believe that President Obama is your equal, then treat him like you treat members of your own race or ethnicity. If you judge President Obama on his character, or his actions, then character triumphs over appearance and when you do this, the Racial Coin dissolves.