Let’s face it: the Republican Party has a racism problem among some in its ranks. We’ve heard about the watermelon patch emails. We recently saw Rusty DePass, a GOP activist in South Carolina, apologize for taking to Facebook to liken First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestor to an escaped gorilla.
When one of my readers sent me a link about the latest shenanigans, involving a staffer to a Tennessee state senator who sent a “spook” graphic of President Barack Obama and managed to retain her job, I thought, “Geez, again? What the hell are these fools thinking?” The bad hits just seem to keep coming from the Republican side.
Reverting to stereotypes in an attempt at “humor” is unacceptable. Republican activists do their party no favors with such racist attacks on the president and his wife, which merely reinforce the view among many blacks that the GOP is racist. This certainly does not help the cause of black Republicans who seek to diversify their party either.
However, even while joining them in condemning these racist attacks upon the First Family, I have two issues. There has increasingly been race-based coarseness in American politics for some time. Where were black liberals and leftists when white Democrats did racist cartoons and photoshops of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Michael Steele?
For example, the racist cartoons by cartoonists Jeff Danziger, Pat Oliphant, Ted Rall, and Garry Trudeau that respectively portrayed Dr. Rice as a mammy, a thick-lipped and Ebonic-speaking parrot, a “house nigga”, and President George W. Bush’s “brown sugar”.
How about Wisconsin radio host John “Sly” Sylvester, who called Dr. Rice “Aunt Jemima” and Colin Powell “Uncle Tom” on his show, and even planned to do a pancake and syrup mix giveaway? The calling of Michael Steele as an “Uncle Tom” on Daily Kos, a white-owned website?
As a moderate-conservative independent, I see selective outrage from both major political parties and a failure to condemn racism across the board. Partisans on both sides rarely condemn the racism that comes from their side of the political aisle.
I also take issue with priorities. Racism is a problem, but is no longer the primary barrier to black progress. Black folks have far bigger fish to fry. Unless our civil rights are violated (which, despite the above-mentioned Republicans’ very foul speech, were not violated), we should place much more emphasis on improvement of black communities so we continue to progress.
While they shouldn’t be ignored, why are the such stories getting far more traction in black media than black-on-black crime, black fatherlessness, or improving our educational attainment? All of which impact Black America far more on a daily basis than these techno-racist emails….and which can we actually change.
There needs to be a paradigm shift in Black America. There is far too much obsession with whiteness and not nearly enough obsession with blackness: white folks as the norm, and what white folks did yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Yes, let’s continue to condemn racism where it exists – be it Republican or Democrat – but keep our eyes focused a lot more on the larger prize.
Shamara Riley is the webmaster at Booker Rising, a blog news site for black moderates and black conservatives.