I am at the moment, finding myself suddenly distracted from both work and the Haiti Earthquake disaster, and SQUINTING at the political HOO RAH over Senator Ried's "light-skinned" comment concerning President, then-Senator Obama's electability.
Now I don't want to get off on a rant here... No wait... Yes. Yes, I do.
It may have been politically incorrect to mention, and perhaps not expressed with maximum sensitivity... BUT IT JUST HAPPENS TO BE TRUE...
As a mixed race child of interracial parents, I will stand up and say, that Barack Obama's perception as being a man who is articulate and intelligent, very obviously part of the great American Melting pot, and firmly entrenched in the mainstream, had a GREAT deal to do with his being acceptable and even appealing to mainstream America, and therefore electable. Since I have no political aspirations, I'll say it, not putting forth a stereotypical image of what might be perceived as a "Ghetto Niggah" certainly helped to calm the jittery sensitivities of the still white majority of American voters. Let's just say that Al Sharpton's chances at the presidency, despite his prominent activism and hardly a gangsta, are a LOT slimmer, with his much more prominent ethnic image. And since in office, the Obama administration has made an effort to embrace a "Presidential" image, over any simplistic one based on class or racial identity.
It also helped that he was NOT George Bush... or Cheny/Palin... probably had much to do with his election as well.
While I'd like to think that his intelligence and articulate presentation of his message were major factors, I would be hopelessly naive in thinking that racial issues did not play a part in many people's minds. I'm originally from Brooklyn, a very racially mixed part of the planet, and trust me these issues are out there, much as we'd like to gloss them over in the media or polite (!?) political conversation. As for "negro Dialect" ... that's actually putting it politely. "Eubonics, Jive, Street, Hip-Hop, Rappa, Gangsta-speak," what-have-you are all intended as languages of identity, but also of exclusion, and intentionally so. "We be us. We sho' 'NUFF ain't YOU. Word." I've HEARD the homeboys back in 'da hood get their word on, and you can't understand them in Staten Island, much less Washington. Ay! Dat's mah home town we talkin' 'bout. So wat YOU lookin' at?" Dialect, remember?
Both the Obama organization and his Administration, has tried rather diligently, if not always successfully, to rise above issues of racial identity. President Obama must absolutely be President for the entire nation in all it's fractious diversity, (including Republicans!) not just symbolically represent a minority slice of it. Necessary. Truth to be told, I am certain that there are Americans that are none the less somewhat fearful that President Obama is not as "one of us" as some of them might honestly prefer. Whoever the heck "us" might be, depending on who you ask. But yeah, all the previous American Presidents have been Middle Aged, usually upper class, White Males. Consider it a "comfort level" thing, if you will.
My impression of the matter is that "not one of us", seems to be more of an issue for some Americans than Barack Obama's actual African American background. But I am sure that there there are probably still a few "old-school" racists out there too.
Meanwhile, Rep. Joe "You lie!" Wilson gets off the hook while the Republicans are howling for Senator Reid's resignation. Apparently the boundaries of what is acceptable political discourse is completely dependent on what political advantage can be wrung out of either tolerance or censure.
Come ON. Like I said, he just made an observation, expressed an opinion... that JUST HAPPENS TO BE TRUE. And it's NOT SUCH A BIG DEAL. Grow the frak UP, people. But truth and politics have always had a rather uneasy relationship, to put it... cough ... politely. If there was an environment where black and white doesn't much matter and everything turns mulch GRAY, it's the Congress of the United States.
But that's just my opinion, and it doesn't matter if you think I am wrong. Sho' 'nuff.
(Note: Minor edits for language and clarity - SAG )