Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TNC Does It Again

Maureen Dowd wrote a bullshit column ostensibly hitting President Obama and his team for not being "black enough" because of the administration's response to the Shirley Sherrod episode which got a lot more play than it should have earlier this week. It seems as if people don't realize that its her shtick to bring down Democratic Presidents by questioning their manhood in any way possible. This "he's not black enough" trash has been a drum she's been beating for quite some time and the Shirley Sherrod incident just gave her another opportunity. And if you notice not once in that long ass bunch of bloviating did she ever take the time to even mention FoxNews or Andrew Breitbart, as if the doctored video of Sherrod shut appeared one day out of thin air.

Ta Nehisi Coates on the other hand wrote a post about the reality of the situation as it stands. As he says of people who keep calling for a national conversation on race, "talk is cheap"!

Expecting an American conversation on race in this country, is like expecting financial advice from someone who prefers to not check their bank balance. It's not that the answers, themselves, are pre-ordained, its that we are more interested in questions than answers, in verdicts than evidence. Even now, there are people who insist--in spite of the actual video--that the NAACP audience is actually cheering for Sherrod to not help the white farmer.

Put bluntly, this is a country too ignorant of itself to grapple with race in any serious way. The very nomenclature--"conversation on race"--betrays the unseriousness of the thing by communicating the sense that race can be boxed from the broader American narrative, that you can somehow talk about Thomas Jefferson without Sally Hemmings; that you can discuss Andrew Jackson without discussing his betrayal of the black artillerymen who fought at the Battle of New Orleans; that you can discuss the suffrage without Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells or Frederick Douglass; that you can discuss temperance without understanding the support of the Klan; that you can discuss the path to statehood in Florida without discussing Fort Gadsen; that you can talk Texas without understanding cotton, and so on.

It's not so much that we don't know--it's that we aspire to not know. The ignorance of the African-American thread in the broader American quilt--the essential nature of that thread--is willful, and the greatest evidence that the spirit of white supremacy walks with us. There was a lot of self-congratulation around the justice done on Shirley Sherrod. It's premature. The thing will happen again. Race isn't a "distraction" from Obama's agenda--it's the compromised, unsure ground upon which this country walks everyday. It is the monster, and it will not be evaded writing Shirley Sherrod off to the machinations of the 24-hour news cycle.

What's most irritating is the same mainstream media folks who keep calling for this mythical national conversation on race, are the same people who as soon as the word racism or racist enter the discussion will bend over backwards to defend the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Pat Buchanan lest they be criticized by right wingers. What they really want is a national lie about where we are as a country on race to make everyone feel better.

Sorry folks, that's just not going to happen.

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