I just had to call out this New York Times article “In Obama’s Pursuit of Latinos, Race Plays a Role” as not telling a full story. According to the piece by Adam Nagourney and Jennifer Steinhauer:

Mr. Obama confronts a history of often uneasy and competitive relations between blacks and Hispanics, particularly as they have jockeyed for influence in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

“Many Latinos are not ready for a person of color,” Natasha Carrillo, 20, of East Los Angeles, said. “I don’t think many Latinos will vote for Obama. There’s always been tension in the black and Latino communities. There’s still that strong ethnic division. I helped organize citizenship drives, and those who I’ve talked to support Clinton.”

Um, ok. Where to start with this article. To start, Latinos represent a heterogenous group of people with folks from different countries and of different races. Some Hispanics identify as white, some as black and some as Indian. Many are multi-racial. So to write this article and not factor that element is poor reporting and research indeed. It’s an example of when white people get it wrong when it comes to reporting on minority communities.

I’d really like to see Latinos being approached as the complex set of communities within a community that they are rather than a monolith and a racist one at that. Ugh.

Naturally of course, the article turns to none other than Big Al, who probably put on an extra-special red, white and green track suit to deliver these comments:

The Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who has been on the front line of many of the black-Latino battles in New York politics, said the tension would be a problem for Mr. Obama across the country and in New York, which also votes on Feb. 5. He said Mr. Obama would be at a disadvantage because of his choice to be a “race-neutral candidate.”

I feel like I may need surgery to remove my eyeballs from the back of my head. Come on. I love it though that the writers feel the need to defend tapping on Al for comments. I’m hoping to see more of that since there are plenty of other black leaders that don’t get asked for comments.

The article also blissfully features no actual polling data on how Obama or Clinton (or Edwards for that matter) are doing among Latinos — either nationally or by state. Let alone breaking the polling into sub-demographics such as white-identified or black-identified Latinos.

I’m not saying there isn’t tension between blacks and Latinos. But ultimately isn’t a lot of that based more on economic and social competition as society changes? There’s plenty of racial tension among Hispanic Americans themselves and that may well play a factor in the 2008 race. I’d like to see some media coverage that goes beyond weak impressions and stereotypes. Hey New York Time — how about the next time, this type of article gets written by a black reporter and a latino reporter working together? Revolutionary — now that would be interesting!

Jack Turner, blogger extraordinare, recently launched the Clinton Attacks Obama wiki. And it is a sight to behold. I told you: we’re taking notes. It’s open to everyone so please add clips and quotes as you see them from Hillary Clinton or from cheese-eating, handkerchief-headed surrogates.

Don’t worry, we’ll create a new one for the Republicans once they start up with the racial attacks. Which they will.

In the meantime, thanks much Jack and thanks to everyone who has commented or added entries. Let’s keep a weather eye out. We’ll see if the Clintons are able to keep their word on the “truce”.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seem eager to move beyond the racial mud-slinging. The mud-slinging that the Clinton campaign has led. The Clinton campaign (until it started to yield diminishing returns) seemed to have calculated that they could sacrifice black votes during the primary to win over white independents and undecideds because once Clinton is the nominee — where else are black voters going to go? And it’s true. Clinton’s “performance” on Meet the Press on Sunday convinced me not to vote for her during the California primary. Her interview revealed her as dishonest, cynical, evasive, finger-pointing and whining. A short-sighted follower rather than a leader – at least when it came to the Iraq war. I think the word “shrill” is sexist and in her case, not even accurate. I prefer just plain old “annoying” and “humorless”. But if she wins the nomination, I would absolutely vote for her over whichever fascist fumbling jackass the Republicans select in their primaries. I might vote for her without much enthusiasm, but I would certainly choose her.

And that’s what the Clintons are banking on. That they could racially rough-ride over Obama right in front of us — over and over and using sneering, paternalistic barbs — and that African-Americans would come crawling back anyway in the general election. If it’s at all close in key states, though, they’d need a strong black turnout and if this race-baiting behavior continues and black dis-affection with the Clintons spreads, is that guaranteed? They’ve been taking a big chance, pointing to scared strategy.

I switched off Meet the Press thinking: Where was Hillary Clinton after 9/11, before the War in Iraq, when the Patriot Act was passed? When the country desperately needed alternative vision and leadership, she went along for Bush’s ride. Conditions in America have not improved under Bush, but he didn’t create problems like education, healthcare and the environment. The Clintons had 8 years to do something about these afflictions in America and improved things just around the margins. They may have alleviated some of the pain but these certainly weren’t cured. This is not to diminish accomplishments like a balanced federal budget, prosperous high tech economy, maternity leave, the Americans with Disability Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. But frankly, he Clintons had their chance. Maybe it’s time for someone else with new ideas to take the reins.

Regarding Clinton surrogates, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about how black people feel about Robert “Bob” Johnson. Look people, BET has long been hated by many, many black people and its content actually became less of a national humilation after Johnson sold it to Viacom. Bob Johnson is a highly controversial character, who despite his laudable philanthropy, generates almost automatic revulsion among many African-Americans. Karen Hughes and Quincy Jones launched TVOne in part just to provide a positive, alternative anti-BET. To position Johnson as a black leader to spout unfortunate words about Obama means that the Clinton campaign looks desperate and ill-advised. It looks like scraping the bottom of the barrel. Don’t understand what I mean? If you want to look for a businessman that is a hero to blacks, I give you: Magic Johnson.

Finally, on surrogates Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and James Clyburn (D-SC). I found it interesting that Clyburn felt the need to say publicly that the Clintons should back off since that conversation could have been had over the phone. Which means that they had those conversations, she continued the race-baiting and he felt the need to step in gently. Good for him. He’s right:

“People are talking about race versus gender when we ought to be talking about Democrats versus Republicans,” said Mr. Clyburn, who as the Democratic whip is the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.

Re: Charles Rangel — love ya, but saying things like this just don’t help us elevate the conversation. So please, STFU.

“How race got into this thing is because Obama said ‘race,’ ” Mr. Rangel said on the NY1 cable channel. “I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act. But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid.”

I didn’t get the sense that Obama was suggesting any such thing. What makes name-calling ok? Why the needless attack on a brother?

I would love to think that Hillary Clinton is sincere when she says:

“We may differ on minor matters,” Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Obama, “but when it comes to what is really important, we are family. Both Senator Obama and I know that we are where we are today because of leaders like Dr. King and generations of men and women like all of you.”

“Family”? Hmm. With African-Americans, uh not anymore, we ain’t.

I have a feeling that if Obama wins more primaries, this is not the last time race will be injected into this campaign among Democrats. Clintons — know that we are watching, taking notes and won’t forget. I hope you are planning some way of making this up to us if you win. You can start with slavery and Jim Crow reparations.

Here at JJP, I get a lot of the emails. All our bloggers also read your comments. From those I have gathered that while most of our readers are black, we also seem popular with a lot of people who aren’t black. And that’s cool. Jack and Jill Politics is open to all. I think part of the appeal is that we don’t hold back much here. If you’ve been wondering what the Barack Obama of your workplace — the affable, funny and well-educated black person in the office next to yours or across the board room from you is really thinking about the issues of the day — well, here we provide at least one window deep inside the mind of the African-American middle class.

Also, many comments or emails feature phrases such as “I’m white but”. Look, it’s not your fault that you are white. It’s actually your parents’ fault. And it’s just fine. Say it loud. You’re white and you’re proud. It’s helpful sometimes to know where you’re coming from, but there’s no need to apologize for your opinions.

Keep writing in, readers! We love to hear from you and frankly, it’s obvious from your comments that so many of you are pretty smart. Your comments and emails provide us with a lot of context, facts and perspective and are an important part of the conversation.

All the best, Jill

because Obama is doing one of those fancy smooth moves where you sidestep your opponent, then stick them with the pointy thing. Oh yes, I’m eloquent :)

From ABC news:

ABC News’ David Wright, Andy Fies, and Sunlen Miller Report: Sen. Barack Obama told ABC News Monday there is nothing in Sen. Hillary Clinton’s record that would give him any cause for concern about her in terms of racial politics.

Asked how Obama interpreted two recent remarks by the Clintons that prompted an angry reaction from some in the Black community, Obama sought to damp down the racial dynamics of the controversy.

Many African Americans were offended when Hillary Clinton told an interviewer in New Hampshire, “Martin Luther King’s dream became a reality when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Some say she seemed to suggest that it took a white politician to fulfill a black man’s dream.

“I don’t think it was in any way a racial comment,” Obama told ABC News. “That’s something that has played out in the press. That’s not my view.”

But, he said, the comment was revealing about her political character. “I do think it was indicative of the perspective that she brings, which is that what happens in Washington is more important than what happens outside of Washington,” he said.

He said he believes the quote betrays a belief on her part, “that the intricacies of the legislative process were somehow more significant than when ordinary people rise up and march and go to jail and fight for justice.”

He called that a “fundamental difference” between them.

Former President Bill Clinton also offended some African Americans when, addressing Dartmouth College students, he referred to Obama’s campaign as “the biggest fairy tale” he’d ever seen.

Did Obama feel dissed? He laughed and shook his head.

But, again, Obama looked past the racial controversy.

Instead, Obama directed his response to the dispute over whether opposition to the Iraq War was consistent. (Clinton has since reiterated that is what he meant when he invoked the “fairy tale” line.)

“Both he and Sen. Clinton have been spending a lot of time over the past month trying to run down my record,” Obama said. “What particularly distresses me is this notion that I wasn’t against the war from the start.

“This is coming from a former president who suggests that he was and nobody can find any record of it,” he said.

And Politico has more.

Not all racist. Not all incredibly wack. I’ve try to clean up the formatting some and added some context to others. Was surprised to find that spadework looks like its actually used a lot by people referring to preparatory work, for example.

Anyway, check it out. Update stuff. Add more.

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Tomorrow is the Michigan primary, but the process on the democratic side is pretty meaningless since the delegates lost their votes by scheduling the event so early. Please share this post with any Michigan folks you know.

The Lansing State Journal put together a primary primer to help voters understand their choices (write ins do NOT count) and did a good piece on the frustration of Michiganians and what they’ve done about it

Many Democratic voters are approaching Tuesday’s primary election with a niggling sense of the contest’s irrelevance. And some are calling it a fiasco.

Two leading candidates, Barack Obama and John Edwards, won’t appear on the ballot, having withdrawn their names after state elected officials moved the primary up to Jan. 15 in violation of national party rules.

Both had pledged to Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada that they wouldn’t “campaign or participate” in any state that scheduled a primary before Feb. 5.

Hillary Clinton, who agreed to the same pledge, will be on the ballot, but has promised not to campaign here.

Mike Gravel won’t be showing up either.

In fact, Dennis Kucinich, who made appearances in the Detroit area Thursday and Friday and will continue to campaign here in the coming days, is the only Democratic candidate who has so much as set foot in the state in recent weeks.

Add to that the fact that the Democratic National Committee’s Rules Committee has stripped Michigan of its 156 national convention delegates – and cancelled those delegates’ hotel reservations for the August convention to boot – and you have a primary that reeks of uncertainty.

Of course, Kos suggests all Dems vote for Romney since the primary is open and Republicans have a history of mucking around in Democratic primaries.

My people,

What an unbelievable election season we are in. It is so on till the break a dawn! The Clintons have lost their damn minds. Civil Rights OGs are coming out of the woodwork to dog a brotha. South Carolina is the place to be, and the world has reached peak oil production which means all these skirmishes pale in comparison to the poo poo that is about to hit the fan.

Here’s my own blogging plan for the next few weeks.

  • Just have it out about the relationship between black folks and the Clintons
  • Live from S. Carolina. A few folks I know are heading down to campaign, monitor voting procedures, etc. I’m planning to get dispatches from them. If you are down there or know people who are/will be, let me know so we can cover this madness. Would love some video footage too.
  • Bring up some positive things about Obama. I’m open about it. I support the man. I want to make sure at least I don’t get caught up in all the dirt and responding to rhetorical inanity from the Clintons. There are many reasons to be for the man. I want to spell more of those out.
  • A dose of reality. Campaigns are contagious infections of both hope and pessimism driven a lot by personality. I’ll be reminding all of us of the fundamental and structural challenges we face as a nation that almost none of the candidates are talking about in a serious way. Basically, we are super screwed, and whoever becomes president will preside over a nation in decline in many ways
    • We face the end of cheap energy due to peak oil production. This will be dreadful
    • The dollar is collapsing; the credit markets are collapsing; housing is dead and recession looms
    • Our economy does what exactly? We don’t make any of the things most necessary to our survival
    • Our food system is poisonous and completely unsustainable.

Update 3pm: I should add, I’ll also be posting on some things that aren’t so hot about Obama. I heard a solid debate on Democracy Now last week between Michael Eric Dyson and Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report. Ford raised Obama’s plans to expand the US military by 100,000 and asked, “what good does it do to put a black face on American imperialism?”

Solid question. I’ll try to work it out.

Are we really approaching a point in our society where non-athletes use performance enhancing drugs just to look good?

“Mary J. Blige has never taken any performance-enhancing illegal steroids,” the singer’s spokeswoman Karynne Tencer told the Daily News.

The R&B singer leads a roster of entertainers named in a probe by Albany County District Attorney David Soares, the Times Union reported.

Rappers 50 Cent, Timbaland and Wyclef Jean and actor Tyler Perry also allegedly ordered steroids or human growth hormone from doctors and pharmacists targeted in Soares‘ investigation, according to the paper.

I knew 50 was juicing when I heard the Massacre. There’s no way he could have done that without drugs. I’m…not looking forward to the possibility of steroid-related rhymes.

As for Mary J, I send my condolences to Soulbounce.

Of all the recent race-based attacks on Obama, there are two that strike me as being of vital importance to the Clinton strategy, which has two parts.

The first is Andrew Young’s assertion that, as William Jelani Cobb put it, race can be transferred “like an STD”.

Young also quipped that “Bill is every bit as black as Barack.” “He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack,” Young said of former President Clinton, drawing laughs from a live television audience. Young quickly followed the comment with the disclaimer, “I’m clowning.”

The second is Bob Johnson’s assertion that Obama is like Sidney Poitier as a black doctor being attempting to win over his white fiance’s parents in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner:

Johnson went on: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, ‘This ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.’”

I wrote that the point of that insult is that Obama is a House Negro, a sellout. I know that for many of you, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner is before your time, so I’m going to let Baldwin explain why the comparison is unflattering.

The Setting of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is the key. We are on the heights of San Francisco–at a time not too far removed from the moment when the city of San Francisco reclaimed the land at Hunter’s Point and urban-renewalized the niggers out of it. The difficult and terrified city, where the niggers are, lives far beneath these heights. The father is in a perfectly respectable, perhaps even admirable profession, and the mother runs an art gallery. The setting is a brilliant recreation of a certain–and far from unnattractive–level of American life, And the black doctor is saying, among other things, that his presence in this landscape, (this hard-won Eden) will do nothing to threaten or defile it–indeed, since tin the event that he marries the girl, they are immediately going to the Far East, or some such place, and he will not be present.

See? This is a character who has been written from the perspective of being as inoffensive to white viewers as possible–so much so that he is willing to leave the hemisphere in order to prevent white people from feeling uncomfortable about his marriage to a white woman.

But both of these are more than just accusations that Obama, on some level is a sellout, both Young and Johnson are calling Obama an Oreo; for the uninitiated, the epithet means that Obama is black on the outside and white on the inside. I wrote while guest blogging at Carpetbagger that:

In my experience, people are called ‘white’ not for being intelligent, articulate, or for getting good grades, but for expressing a set of priorities contrary to black advancement.

This it the framework in which Johnson and Young are attacking Obama.

What this sets up of course, is the idea that Obama doesn’t have the “best interests of his people in mind”. This is a criticism white people, especially white conservatives, like to level at black activists like Al Sharpton. The reason is that it allows the speaker to retain a certain rhetorical advantage: On the one hand, it allows him to make racialized critiques of a black figure, on the other, it allows the speaker to lend the impression that he is making the critique because he actually cares about what happens to black people.

While it is currently black Clinton surrogates who are doing the heavy lifting, eventually the “Obama is a sellout” meme will become so common that white people will have no problem making the same kind of assertions. Obama’s run for president in itself will become a kind of selling out; a metaphor for his ambition trumping his commitment to the community. If he really cared, they’ll say, he’d still be a community organizer in Chicago.

All of which has the “unintended” side effect of keeping the nigger in his place, which is with other niggers, not in the White House. White people, you will notice, never have obligations not to “sell-out” their people, because they see themselves as individuals. We don’t have that freedom yet.

The other side advantage to the Oreo/House Negro assault is that there is no easy rhetorical comeback. What is Obama supposed to say, that he’s not white? For white people, it will beg the question, “What’s wrong with being white?” Suddenly, Barack Obama, the word of American racial redemption made flesh, becomes Barack Obama, black man running for president.

The second part of the Clinton attack is making it seem like these racialized comments, to which the Obama campaign has barely responded, come from the Obama camp and not the Clinton camp.

First there was Clinton herself:

“I’m particularly offended at the way some have taken out of context and apparently deliberately tried to mislead others about what was said,” said Clinton inside a local Mexican restaurant in Reno. Clinton called the attacks “baseless and divisive.” She went on to say that she was “personally offended at the apporach taken that was not only misleading but unecessarily hurtful.”

“It clearly came from Senator Obama’s campaign and I don’t think it is the kind of debate that we should be having in our campaign.”

Of course, as should be obvious from Bob Johnson’s recent statement, this is exactly the kind of debate that the Clinton Campaign wants to have.

Still, we have Geraldine Ferraro telling white folks that shiftless, hustling Negro from Chicago is trying to bamboozle you!

“As soon anybody from the Clinton campaign opens their mouth in a way that could make it seem as if they were talking about race, it will be distorted,” Mrs. Ferraro said. “The spin will be put on it that they are talking about race. The Obama campaign is appealing to their base and their base is the African-American community. What they are trying to do is move voters from Clinton by distorting things. What have they got to lose?”

Ferraro, by stating that Obama’s base is “the African-American community” rather than the healthy cross section of Democratic voters whom he has to win over to get the nomination, helps to further establish Obama as a polarizing black figure in the vein of Al Sharpton.

The intended irony is that the Obama campaign has everything to lose from this conversation, and the Clinton campaign has everything to gain. The idea behind the racialized attacks is not to mobilize black voters against Obama. They know that we get it. The idea is to convince white voters that Obama is the kind of person who will play the race card at the first opportunity, and to demoralize black voters who question whether Obama can win. Once white people start turning on Obama, black people may give up hope and either not vote or vote for their second choice, who is probably Hillary Clinton.

This is 2008. This is the America we are living in.

cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

Update 2:43am: more on Bob Johnson’s horribleness, claiming the estate tax is racist, etc.

Update
1:18am Jan 14: check out this post from Too Sense titled Founder of Modern Minstrelsy Goes After Obama. Ouch!!

This political theater is incredible and hilarious. We can’t even get Sunday off around here. Of all the black people in the world who would attack Obama on behalf of the Clintons, it would be Bob Johnson, founder of Black Exploitation Television. Gimme a break!

This is #7 on our incident tracker wiki.

His comments while introducing Hillary Clinton at an event in South Carolina

And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book – ­when they have been involved…

That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And
I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.

Since making these statements, Johnson said he wasn’t talking about drug use at all. He sloppily tried to explain that what had happened was

My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect.

“When Hillary Clinton was in her twenties she worked to provide protections for abused and battered children and helped ensure that children with disabilities could attend public school.

That results oriented leadership — even as a young person — is the reason I am supporting Hillary Clinton.”

Come! On! Now! You really don’t expect me to believe that when you said he “was doing something in the neighborhood – and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book…” that you were referring to community organizing??! I mean I’m sure it’s hard for you to recognize community organizing, especially if it targets your claim to fame, but you are clearly a little rusty on how to run a media empire.

In fact, you know what this excuse sounds like. SHUCKIN AND JIVIN!! See, Mr. Cuomo? This is an appropriate use of the term, and I’m allowed to say it, because that’s what Johnson is doing.

Bob Johnson is not new at the game of selling questionable products to black people.

Obviously there have been, shall we say, issues with the programming of BET even before he sold it to Viacom, one of those six massive mega media companies with not a drop of concern nor obligation to the communities they reach.

On top of that, as Black Agenda Report (no fan of Obama) covered in 2002, Johnson was out working on a Bush commission to privatize (and thus destroy) social security by claiming that because black people die younger, we get nothing out of it.

Here’s a question: why don’t you ask Mrs. Clinton why she is so proud to have the support of a man who pimped stereotypical images of black people and worked to privatize social security?

Ok, so this past week and even before, we’ve had a lot of blog posts and even more comments pointing out how Hillary Clinton or members of her campaign have thrown questionable, wack or race-baiting attacks at Obama. A lot is getting lost in the mix, and I want single place where folks can read, edit or add to the list. This is an experiment. It could go horribly wrong. It could be amazing. There are more collective eyes and ears among yall than among the four of us blogging here, so I’m asking for some help and some trust.

I present, the Clinton Attacks Obama Wiki.

Click on over there, and read the idea, then get to work. The point is NOT to make ish up, take people’s comments out of context, etc. Some of the incidents have been mad obvious and others much more subtle. Still more have nothing to do with race, but are nonetheless wack. I dare say a few may even be legitimate.

Have at it.

One of the biggest myths of the Presidential campaign is that the only people questioning Barack Obama’s negritude, or “blackness” as it is commonly referred to, are also black.

This background may be what some people (mainly blacks) have meant when they asked the regrettable question of whether Obama is “black enough” to earn their votes. But Obama has always been black enough for his elite white enthusiasts, who would never presume to judge an African American’s racial authenticity — indeed, are all too happy to have such a question be kept, by prevailing norms, off limits to them.

Someone forgot to tell Tucker Carlson that being “elite” and “white”, such a question was “off limits.” Not too long ago, he hosted an all-white panel of pundits to assess Obama’s racial authenticity.

On the August 8 edition of MSNBC’s Tucker, an all-white group discussed an upcoming forum at a National Association of Black Journalists convention that will address, according to the convention program — as quoted by The Washington Post — the question Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) “cannot seem to shake — is he black enough? Is this an unfair question? What is the measure of blackness and who gets to decide?” Host Tucker Carlson asked A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter: “What exactly do people mean when they talk about Obama’s quote, “blackness”? … I’m not even sure what that question means. I know that it makes me uncomfortable and it strikes me as unfair, but what does it mean?” Carlson, who is white, devoted a full segment of his show — more than six minutes — to the issue of Obama’s racial identity and the effect of stereotypes on his bid for the presidency with Stoddard and Alter, two white journalists.

This preceded a series of bizarre statements from Tucker directed at Obama, including speculation about the Senator’s sex life.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh has gone as far as taking credit for Obama “getting blacker,” only shortly after advising the Senator to “renounce his race” and “be white”.

Then there was Pat Buchanan weighing in on the Senator’s negritude, stating:

“[i]t is quite apparent” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) “is not a street fighter, and he doesn’t have the eye of the tiger.” Buchanan further said that Obama is “up there, sort of holding forth,” adding, “I mean, he’s not what you would expect from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago. He’s something, as [NBC News political director] Tuck [Chodd] says, you’d expect in a Harvard seminar for undergraduates or something like that.”

I mean, I know Chi-Town has kind of a reputation, but I have to confess I have yet to meet anyone, black or white, who has presented themselves to me as a “street fighter,” with “the eye of the tiger”. Maybe I should move to Philadelphia, but I have a feeling there’s still a chance my life would still be complete otherwise.

This week in Slate, Christopher Hitchens demanded to know why were all referring to Obama as black.

Isn’t there something pathetic and embarrassing about this emphasis on shade? And why is a man with a white mother considered to be “black,” anyway? Is it for this that we fought so hard to get over Plessy v. Ferguson?

Hitchens’ statement begs the question, who is this “we” he is talking about? I don’t know either. From what I can tell, Hitchens appears to have sat out the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Which makes sense, in 1965, he was only 16 years old. From that paragraph you might assume Hitchens spent the 60s freedom riding through the American South, registering black voters and narrowly dodging the Klan.

Peter Beinart also weighed in on the subject, with considerably more complexity than those mentioned above. His position as a “white elite” seemed not to be a deterrent.

At any rate, it seems like there are few “white elites” who see the question of Obama’s blackness as “off limits.” Quite to the contrary, they seem to consider themselves accomplished experts on who’s black, and who isn’t.

It can hardly be said that “only blacks” are discussing whether or not Obama is “black enough,” and even then, (with some notable exceptions) the conversation is more about his political priorities than his appearance, speech, mannerisms, or ancestry.

The only real shots at Obama’s “blackness” from black figures have come occasionally, from rivals’ surrogates like Andrew Young but mostly from Right wing shills like Shelby Steele, who is somehow unable to see the tragic, tragic irony in his accusing Obama of being ‘white’ both in the context of his own work and racial heritage.

Indeed, there is little conflict in the black community as to whether Obama is “authentically” black, because most of us are tired of arguing about what that actually means. The real question is whether he represents black interests better than Hillary Clinton or John Edwards, and whether or not as a black candidate, he has a chance of winning.

You know…the ones that are ‘ in our imagination’.

Hat tip: dnA

From The Guardian:

In the words of that Clinton adviser: “If you have a social need, you’re with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you’re young and you have no social needs, then he’s cool.”

But, of course, we’re just making this stuff up.

Uh huh.

My ears are still ringing from yesterday’s blow of the whistle.

Black-Brown Tensions

11 Jan 2008

TNR has an article about Obama’s standing among Latinos, that includes a survey that indicates that many have some pretty unflattering views about black folks.

In Mindiola’s surveys of racial attitudes in Houston, they asked Latino respondents to describe blacks. Some of the terms that most often came to mind were “noisy,” “loud,” “lazy,” “dropouts/uneducated,” “hostile,” “complainers/whiners,” “bad people,” “prejudiced,” “aggressive,” “angry,” “disrespectful/rude,” and “violent.” Only 54 percent of U.S.-born Latinos and 46 percent of immigrant Latinos approved of their children dating an African American. 41 percent of U.S.-born Latinos thought blacks had “too much power.” Half thought that “most government programs that are designated for minorities favor African Americans.”

In some ways, I think that “Latino” really does a poor job of explaining the cultural diversity of Spanish-speaking people, similar to the way “black” fails to take into account the diversity of people of African descent. The Latino population in Houston is probably mostly Chicano, while in New York there are a lot of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans; in short, Latinos who unlike Chicanos, share an African heritage.

Although that doesn’t seem to have helped to much in Florida:

This hostility of Latinos toward blacks has sometimes showed up in political behavior. While both groups–especially if Florida’s Cubans are excluded–generally vote Democratic, there have been instances where Hispanics, faced with a black Democratic candidate, or with a white Democratic candidate closely tied to the black community, have voted Republican.

I grew up in DC, where I saw some black-brown tension but mostly I saw people keeping to themselves (maybe that’s indicative of more tension than I’d like to admit.) In New York, I spend most of my free weekends in the South Bronx drinking and playing dominoes (and yes, Wii, I admit it) with my Boricua friends. This degree of tension hasn’t been my experience, but it certainly sounds very real. Also, my experience is probably mitigated by the fact that I can pass for Puerto Rican.

What do ya’ll think? Do you see this on a daily basis? Those numbers were pretty shocking to me.


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Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

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