Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stop, Please, Just... STOP

I haven't commented much on the train-wreck mess that is the build up to the presidential election, but I just got home from hours in a newspaper morgue to read people talking about Obama's "typical white person" comment. That, on top of the fact that he's being painted as guilty by association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the fact that I'm tired as hell, just has my head about to blow.

And I want to say, stop fronting.

My mother is always proud to tell her friends, "I love my children, but I don't uphold them when they're wrong." To her, that means she's not one of those parents who believes her children are infallible or that everything her kids do is justifiable and right. We fuck up. We say and do wrong things. And my mom will tell us. She still loves us, is still ultra-supportive, but she will say, "elle, now that's just not right."

And I respect her and admire her for that. So, for all the people alleging that Obama "threw his grandmother under the bus" because he said she
once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and... on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
Stop that. He did not throw her under a damned bus. He did not disown her or say he doesn't love her. He refused to uphold her wrong.

And for all the people alleging that Obama must be racist because of Rev. Wright's comments and Michelle Obama's remark about only being recently proud of this country... Stop fronting. Please stop acting like you have no idea why some African Americans might be a bit critical of this country, why the rose-colored glasses don't quite fit many of us. And I won't discuss how being patriotic might not mean hiding behind blind, "my country is the greatest thing evar" nationalism, but actually wanting the people of your country to strive to be better, to be fair and just. When your country veers off that track, then some analysis and criticism might be in order. Not necessarily like Rev. Wright's...

Oh, which brings me to another point. Stop fronting like all your concern is over what Rev. Wright said and not the least bit about how he said it. It would seem that Rev. Wright ignores the continual admonishments, both overt and subtle, for people of color "to watch their tone," to seem unthreatening, to fade into the background.

For all the people holding on to Obama's "typical white person" comment as if it prize carrion and you are starved vultures... Stop fronting. You are not as much concerned with what that comment meant as you are:

1) glad to have an acceptable excuse for why you can't possibly vote for him (knowing damned well you weren't in the first place)

2) peeved (as I read over and over) that neither HRC nor McCain "could make that comment about a person of color."

In fact, you're so up in arms over point number two that you fail to realize that saying that reveals what kind of comment you'd like to make; that you do, indeed, have some notions about a "typical person of color." I mean Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton wouldn't be as upset as you predict if you said something positive about the "typical black person."

And though it seems Obama's comment has been taken out of context, even if he had been saying the typical white person has "racist issues"... Stop fronting. You haven't been spouting that "I'm colorblind" line so long that even you actually believe it now, have you? You don't believe that the vast majority of white Americans can have been born in a country founded, in part, on white supremacist ideology (ideology that has been reinforced, perpetuated, upheld, SUSTAINED!) and emerged into adulthood having neither benefited from nor internalized any of that?


And oh my God, the sheer hypocrisy of some conservatives trying to exploit "racial gaffes?" Many of whom are part of a party that pretends their southern strategy, anti-immigrant stance, and use of "code words" have nothing to do with race?


And the infighting? Preceding this announcement
I rode with African Americans, walked down the street past midnight in an area that wasn't near safe, with African Americans walking beside me and behind me. I'm a whitey white Scots-Irish broad and I was never afraid of an African American coming towards me, and never once crossed the street
Can you imagine if Hillary Clinton said someone was a "typical black person?"
sort of defeats your purpose. (Please see above).

On second look, invoking your working-class credentials as proof of inability to be racist isn't all that convincing either.


AcadeMama said...

Thank you for this post! Thank you for saying exactly *what* it is and *how* it is in such a matter of fact way...I've reached the point of being too tired and frustrated with it all to even have conversations about this mess, and I'm afraid one of my friends is right when he says "After this, we deserve to end up with McCain as President." We definitely won't have any room for bitchin and blaming.

Anonymous said...

Here via shakesville.

saying that reveals what kind of comment you'd like to make

Very good point. Very ugly and revealing point, too. *sigh*

Brian said...

Have I mentioned how glad I am you're back to blogging regularly? Awesome stuff.

Sarah in Chicago said...

Hey, some friends pointed me in your direction, by way of shakesville ...

Just wanted to say I completely agree with you, and actually had just earlier today written an almost exactly the same post on my blog (though, admittedly not quite as eloquently ...

That guy said...


jfpbookworm said...

Another visitor from Shakesville here.

Thank you for posting this. I've been looking up reactions to the comment, and it's just a sea of privileged faux-indignation, so white it's blinding, and so ignorant it's discouraging. They call out Obama's "tone deaf" statement while not realizing how pitchy their own statements about race are.

elle said...

Thanks all--I don't talk much about politics and elections but I can't believe how this is shaping up. And welcome, Shakers!

Professing Mama said...

Bravo! Excellent post. It's been a tough week, and it's nice to read somebody who's thinking exactly what I'm thinking. The "typical white person" reaction really pissed me off. All he meant was that Grandma isn't a raging KKK member--she is what anybody would consider "normal," yet even those of us who are "average white folks" can fall into stereotypical thinking, too. Anybody can. As you said, it's hard to avoid, given the culture that we grow up in.

I heard somebody on Bill Maher make a good point last night. She's actually an atypical white person, becasue how many white women of her generation would raise their dark-skinned grandsons with love and care the way she did? Not many.

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Excellent post, Elle! Smart, astute and on point as usual.


I_Sell_Books said...


matttbastard said...

I stopped by your pad earlier this wee to see if you'd commented on the Rev. Wright controversy (which you hadn't yet done.) Was directed to this post by Melissa (as it seems many others were, too). Thank you so much for saying what needed to be said.

- matttbastard

Anonymous said...

yes, THANK YOU! i can't take much more of this shit.

Quiche said...

i agree. and of course, with all the homophobic and sexist stuff that comes out of the mouth of pastors (weekly)...those who are free of sins cast the first stone please.

elle said...

ugh, quiche, that's a
whole 'nother post!

matttbastard, can I say that the thought that anyone waits to hear what I have to say makes me feel good about my writing. thank you sincerely.

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