I have a confession to make. One that might "surprise" black people everywhere.
I cannot play basketball.
Cannot even dribble (my mom used to say, "elle, stop patting the ball!").
And this is serious.
Cause basketball playing, it "translates racially." So I am left unable to converse with my basketball-playing brothers and sisters about issues and stuff.
And there is one less way that Senator Barack Obama can court my vote.
You see, Sen. Obama is "very good" at basketball. And as it has been deemed--during a conversation among Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, and Michelle Bernard-- that that is one way he can reach black voters (I guess that's what a racial translation is), I am feeling quite left out of his possible rhetoric.
Now, to get very ethnic (wherein "ethnic" is loosely synonymous to "racist") apparently no one is surprised that Sen. Obama is good at basketball. It must be coded into those pesky "black" genes.
Where does that leave a black woman who can't play?
And putting aside my selfishness for a minute, where does this ability to play basketball leave Obama? I mean, on the one hand, this basketball thing could lay to rest permanently the questions over his "blackness."
But does this, perchance, mean he's too black for "regular" voters? (wherein "regular" is loosely synonymous to "white"--the color of "regular" people--let me borrow a sentence to illustrate:
Here's a guy trying to break into the white ethnic voting crowd, so he goes and plays a sport most associated, I think, with regular folks in the big cities and small towns.That sport is bowling, and it is verifiably a sport for white people (wherein "verifiably" means verified by Howard Fineman, whose expertise is unquestionable seeing as how it's based on the fact that he's white and all).
So Sen. Obama is mysteriously failing to racially translate his basketball playing to reach black people and unable to bowl and reach white people. Then he's compounding the problem by having a non-macho, "dainty" bowling stance--I just know that's cueing red flags for some people!
Effective immediately, I am demanding that Sen. Obama move away from the issues he believes important to work on his bowling game. Nevermind any recent "controversy;" it's his less than stellar bowling that's "just killing him."
So much so that Howard Fineman felt the need to say it three times.
I'm. Just. Through.
No, wait, I had another though. It's okay for him to use basketball to translate racially, but if he engages in any "racial translation" on serious issues within black communities, he's going to be labeled as "concerned only about black people?"
Now I'm done.
Wait, on the other hand, maybe by racially translate, he meant across color lines? Meaning Obama can appeal to white voters not as a politician or even a future president, but as a "good" basketball player, an entertainer. Some people would be infinitely more comfortable (infinitely less threatened?) seeing him in that light. I'm making myself more disgusted so really, I'll stop.
From Media Matters:
FINEMAN: He definitely needs some bowling lessons... if you can't do something like that, you shouldn't do it. He should have stuck to shooting hoops --I keep waiting for this to be an early April Fool's thing.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, I know.
FINEMAN: -- which he's very, very good at, by the way, and which translates racially, too, especially during the NCAA basketball tournament. Don't do something you've never tried before in front of a national television audience, OK?
MATTHEWS: You know, Michelle -- and this gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder --
FINEMAN: That doesn't surprise anybody either.
BERNARD: Well, it certainly doesn't surprise anybody black, I can tell you that.
MATTHEWS: Is black a bowling --
FINEMAN: This is just killing him.
MATTHEWS: I don't know, I guess everybody bowls.
FINEMAN: This is just killing him.
MATTHEWS: I know.
FINEMAN: This is just killing him, Chris. Don't show this over and over again.
MATTHEWS: No, no, we're doing it again. This is a killer. Look at this killer. Because it isn't the most macho form there, I must say, but who knows?
Yup Elle. It translates racially because regular folk (i.e. white folk) just LOVE to watch the NCAA tournament and route for all those black kids to play basketball. In that arena, they are VERY accepting of people's blackness. As long as black men are scoring touchdowns or slam dunking for their favorite teams, regular people in small towns will route for you. But you can't look like a "girl" when you're trying to bowl. That's simply unacceptable.
well, i can play basketball, but don't tell anyone that i can't dance...
In Indiana we're all expected to play basketball, but I've never succeeded at it.
On a more serious note, that transcript frightens me. And anyway, it wasn't exactly Dukakis in a tank - it was bowling, one of the few sports (along with golf) where you can drink beer while you play.
But yeah, it seems like Obama is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't in all of these situations.
You know, in the Flannery O'Connor story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the grandmother is redeemed by facing her imminent death. I think, as I noted on my blog today, that Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman, might be redeemed as journalists if they were hooked up to a machine that, when they said something stupid, automatically kicked them hard, right in the junk. At the very least, it would make me a lot happier.
wherein "ethnic" is loosely synonymous to "racist"
Elle, have I told you lately how much I love you? I love you. :-)
I love you, too! :-)
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