Cory Booker is in the process of demonstrating how to self-sabotage a presidential bid.
Booker captured our minds and hearts as a handsome and wildly charismatic young, Ivy League-educated Black man who cares about the everyman when he was mayor of Newark, N.J., and later as the first Black U.S. Senator of New Jersey. As time went on, however, we started to see a few holes in the young man’s façade.
One of his first major controversies came in 2017, when Booker voted down a bill meant to lower prescription drug prices, leading to the suggestion that he’s in the sizable pocket of Big Pharma and casting a massive asterisk over his perceived support of the proletariat. Those accusations continue to dog him as he runs for the democratic nomination for president in 2020.
Thing is, he doesn’t seem to be doing himself many favors. There was his run announcement where he said, “I always say I got my B.A. from Stanford but my Ph.D. from the streets of Newark.” Which is just corny coming from someone like Booker, regardless of his street bona fides.
But it’s his comments about blackface that I see really coming back to bite him in the ass. He had no choice but to address the issue with it considering we’re now in a blackface vortex that started last year when walking soft-boiled-egg Megyn Kelly got her ass fired for suggesting that blackface for Halloween is no big deal. The issue went dormant for a while and then came back like a steam train when the blackface photo in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook was exposed.
Here we are in 2019 engaged in a national conversation about blackface, explaining to willingly dense mother—ers exactly what’s wrong with it and calling out any famous white folks who ever threw on bronzer in an attempt to be someone else more famous and naturally dark-skinned. We’re talking about canceling Gucci for making some hideous sweater-thingy that I legitimately wonder who the f— would wear even if it wasn’t offensive. Even Katy Perry’s shoes are getting pulled because of perceived blackface.
All these fucking “teachable/learning” moments is why we can’t have nice things.
It’s one year from 2020.
I want my fucking hoverboard and my mech suit and my minority report contact lenses.
We here in the FUTURE telling you blackface is wrong.
— Jean (@JeanGreasy) February 7, 2019
So, when this smart, ostensibly woke Black politician is talking about blackface while campaigning in Des Moines, Ia., one should expect some very tough and definitive words, right? Well…your boy decided to treat the whole issue like he was playing T-ball with a bunch of third graders. First, Booker asks, “How do we get to a point where we can have the conversation without people falling into a defensive crouch?” We shouldn’t be interested in white folks’ defensiveness when it comes to blackface. It’s no different than white people feeling “defensive” when we tell them not to use the N-Bomb under any goddamn circumstances.
Then Booker says he has friends that come to him who don’t “understand this blackface thing.” I’m assuming Booker’s non-black friends are of a certain age and have some modicum of education and thus understand the issue, even if they don’t want to acknowledge it. If his friends don’t actually understand the problem with blackface, he should be more concerned with getting them to a psychiatrist STAT.
The fail bomb of a campaign stop is personified with the statement that makes for a nice, neat headline to demonstrate how apparently obtuse Booker really is: “Put yourself in a white person’s position who might have questions.”
So many thoughts on this. In short, members of marginalized communities are not intellectual mules. Stop reinforcing unfair expecatations to create safe spaces AND to educate wilfully ignorant people. Google is available to everyone. My labor is not. https://t.co/ujPypMbiXe
— Shanita Hubbard (@msshanitarenee) February 10, 2019
Cory Booker on the blackface controversy: ‘Put yourself in a white person’s position’
— Child of Hazel and Smoke (@wondermann5) February 10, 2019
I agree with the meat and potatoes of his message – we do generally need to be more patient in understanding each other instead of being so reactive in regards to things that offend us. But Booker is entirely too politically savvy to not grasp that sound bites kill campaigns dead in the water. His statement suggests that we should center and be sympathetic to white folks when it comes to the blackface topic, when we are the ones in harm’s way.
Dude needs to dig down deep and do a much better job to convince us why we should pick him in lieu of, say, Kamala Harris. Because he can talk about having all the boos he wants in an attempt to look cool – if he doesn’t get his shit together, Booker’s gonna be working on getting tenured with that Newark Ph. D. instead of getting anywhere near the Oval Office in 2020.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.