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Because It’s Race Day

By Jesse Taylor
Thursday, June 5, 2008 16:52 EDT
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Tom Maguire, commenting on this article:

“We as black people now have hope that we have never, ever had,” Mr. Sam-Brew said. “I have new goals for my little girl. She can’t give me any excuses because she’s black.”

What a wonderful country, and I can almost hear Mr. Sam-Brew explaining it to his daughter: Littlest darling, because of the Obama Ascendancy, you will never have to endure the institutionalized racism in America that I never actually endured either, seeing as how I was born in a different country in 1970. But after I arrived from never-prosperous Ghana the race hustlers here in America assured me it was awful, and I have no reason to doubt them. But let’s not look backwards – let’s look towards a brighter future, in which you have a great shot at being accepted into a top school or getting preferential treatment in hiring because you, too, are a once-oppressed minority. It’s a wonderful world.

See, paragraphs like this are the reason why a better strategy for the Republican Party to gain votes in the black community would be to leave bags of flaming dog shit on doorsteps in Birmingham.

Mr. Sam-Brew, incidentally, has a five year old American-born daughter, meaning that he’s been living in America for (wait for it…) at least five years. And those are American years, not those shitty Ghana years. Now, the fundamental question here is whether or not a man with black skin, living in America for any significant portion of time, would experience the same sort of racial prejudice that a man with black skin who was born in America would experience over the same amount of time.

If you can’t answer that question, then here’s another one: does the bouncy ball go bouncy bouncy? I think it does!

Leaving out the “black people get all the breaks” affirmative action knock, let’s move on, because pride is a stupid, stupid thing for people to have.

The next endorsement brings us down a bit, but only to a low Earth orbit:

In his remarks Tuesday, Mr. Obama did not mention becoming the first American of color with a real chance at being president of the United States, and, of course, most of the Democrats who had voted for him were white. But for that very reason, many African-Americans exulted Wednesday in a political triumph that they believed they would never live to see. Many expressed hope that their children would draw strength from the moment.

“Not that we’re so distraught, but our children need to be able to see a black adult as a leader for the country, so they can know we can reach for those same goals,” said Wilhelmina Brown, 54, an account representative for U.S. Bank in St. Paul. “We don’t need to give up at a certain level.”

How Japanese kids, Chinese kids, or Jewish kids ever make it out of bed in the morning, and why they bother, is left unexplained.

There are absolutely no efforts in American society to memorialize or promote achievement on the parts of any of those groups or to remember great moments in their history.

Black people, we need to learn from these examples.

The good thing about race being such a dense and formidable topic is that it assures post fodder from here until 2016. The bad part is, the fodder keeps being provided. In this case, we’ve got a slightly different version of what we discussed yesterday – the idea that a black person becoming a major-party nominee for president is an achievement is not only merely silly, but in this case, openly destructive and even degrading. To take pride in this is to wallow unnecessarily in the muck of the past, which, honestly, you should have gotten past when it was actually happening.

The bad things – racism, sexism, the Pat Sajak Show – are always in the past, even though their effects may linger on to this day. It’s always safe to admit that bad things happened when they’re immutable and untouchable, and much easier to hide behind callow disdain when people speak up (in celebration, no less!) to say that things are actually less bad than they were before. Any admission of progress also involves the admission that there’s progress to make.

Denial helps you sort that out real quick.

Watershed moments always bring out the best and the worst among us. Let’s not be afraid to admit both.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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