Was Touré correct to say that by trying to access racial stereotypes about the “angry black man” Mitt Romney was engaging in the ni**erization of President Obama? In a word, yes.
However, Touré’s violation in such a charged accusation was not that he was being candid and accurate, but that he identified the wrong culprit. The GOP has for years massaged the superior notions of whites, largely in the context of advancing the notion of inferior qualities of blacks and lately signaling the “otherness” of Latinos.
But this has a long tradition in America, undergirded by institutions which have propped up this racial order. From a legal system that gave us separate but equal, and which began with a Constitution that declared blacks as three-fifths of a human, to the social reality which gave us the era of Jim Crow, the inferiority of blacks is a normality of American thinking. That’s just a fact.
Now, when measuring the validity of Touré’s charge, and the counter argument that Joe Biden’s comment to a crowd of black folks that Romney/Ryan was trying to put them back in chains was equally racist, one must first keep in mind this normalcy of black inferiority in America.
Does Biden’s comment sustain this normalcy? No. It was lazy, crude, and patronizing, but it wasn’t racist. Now consider Romney’s campaign, and its focus on welfare and “taking back America”. Consider the white audiences. Consider the obsession with President Obama’s citizenship by the Tea Party. Consider the constant use of President Obama’s middle name by his detractors, Barack Hussein Obama, they say. Consider the push by the GOP to drug test welfare recipients despite there being no evidence that welfare recipients use drugs at greater rates than non-welfare recipients.
The only campaign which operates under the normalcy of black inferiority is the GOP campaign. When Rick Santorum spoke to a crowd of white folks in Iowa and told them that he doesn’t want to make black folks’ lives better by giving them someone else’s money, he was appealing to that normalcy. In Romney’s terms, Rick Santorum was making a cultural connection with his audience.
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