The Real Story Behind “Obama’s Other Race Speech”

By , October 3, 2012 3:54 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this space, but I haven’t stopped writing. I’ve been posting on my other blog about fatherhood, manhood and being a stay-at-home dad. But after watching last night’s big political bombshell that turned out to be a dud, I was compelled to write here.

Last night Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Daily Caller‘s Tucker Carlson were apoplectic about a 2007 video in which then-Sen. Barack Obama identified himself as black to a black audience with an “cadences,” an “accent” and “gestures” some blacks use.

Yes, world. Barack Obama is black. This is clearly shocking to some of you, but it shouldn’t be. He’s been open out his blackness for many years. He even wrote a bestselling book about it. The speech and all its blackness shouldn’t be a surprise either. “Obama’s Other Race Speech” – as Hannity and Carlson call it – was covered by numerous mainstream media outlets.

This tape “revelation” is a non-story, but the response by Hannity, the Daily Caller and others who are trying to make something out of nothing is a story.

First, the timing of all this is highly suspect.. and transparent: A five-year-old speech that had been reported and shown is then re-released 24 hours before the first presidential debate? It seems worried Romney supporters are trying to distract voters away from the Republican’s floundering campaign.

And look at what they’re using: Race. In a world without nuance – yes, a black and white world – anytime a progressive brings up race, it’s racism. In that world, calling out racism, is racism. (In the real world, though, talking about race isn’t necessarily racism. Using race as a way to oppress one group while giving another privileges is racism.) A black president who identifies with a black audience is a racist. Why? Because, in that world encased in a conservative bubble that’s immune to facts and reason, it stokes the fear that Obama will take stuff away from working-class white people and give it to poor lazy black people in the form of welfare. It’s the same world where Obama is a secret muslim who wasn’t born in the United States. It’s a world that seeks to delegitimize his presidency by saying he’s not an American.

So, given the GOP’s history of using racism in campaigns, to this year’s race-baiting by Newt Gingrich and even Romney himself, it shouldn’t be news that a tape like this “surfaced.”

In August, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said about the GOP: “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Making something out of nothing from this tape is an attempt to get a few more angry white guys to vote for Romeny.

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Why Revisit The Jeremiah Wright Controversy? Look At The Census Numbers

By , May 18, 2012 11:44 pm

The big political news on Thursday was that Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his controversial sermons that dogged Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign were going to make a comeback.

In case you missed it, the New York Times reported a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund – a separate entity from Mitt Romney’s campaign and working independently from them – was thinking about making Wright’s statements a campaign issue after this year’s Democratic National Convention. This didn’t come from a group of people brainstorming or having an extended spit-balling session. They were going to use racial divisiveness and fear to win votes.

From the New York Times:

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”

After the plan was made public on Thursday, Mitt Romney repudiated it and a spokesperson for Ricketts said the billionaire rejects “that approach to politics.” So, it doesn’t look like that proposal will be executed. But why would a group of people write up a 54-page proposal and consider spending $10 million to stir up fear of black people? Why would they re-hash Rev. Wright’s sermons and try again to tie them to President Obama, who the Ricketts plan said deceived America into thinking he was a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln?”
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Phoenix School’s Baseball Team Won’t Play Against Girl, Forfeits Championship

By , May 16, 2012 4:56 pm

A Phoenix, AZ Catholic school forfeited a charter school baseball championship because their opponents have a girl on their team. Fifteen year-old Paige Sultzbach plays second base and is the only girl on the Mesa Preparatory Academy’s baseball team. Their would-be opponents in the state championship, Our Lady of Sorrows, declined to play Mesa Prep and forfeited the state championship. They said in a statement:

Our school aims to instill in our boys a profound respect for women and girls. Teaching our boys to treat ladies with deference, we choose not to place them in an athletic competition where proper boundaries can be respected with difficulty.

The school’s so-called “deference” to women sounds like the condescension that says women are inherently delicate and shouldn’t be allowed to do things like play sports. It’s the same attitude that makes it difficult for women to break into traditionally male spheres. It’s same men-only attitude that contributes to the low number of women as Fortune 500 CEO’s and members of Congress.

If Our Lady of Sorrows were indeed instilling in their students “a profound respect for women and girls,” they would view them as equals and play ball.

See Sultzbach’s interview on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton.

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Concealed Weapons Leave “Little Civilian Life Left”

By , April 20, 2012 1:48 pm

In the New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes about the history of guns, the NRA and how the interpretation of the Second Amendment has changed over the course of American history. The National Rifle Association was founded in 1871 and spent most of its history focused on hunting and sport. It didn’t get political and begin its aggressive opposition to gun-control legislation until the 1970′s. The idea that an individual citizen has a Second Amendment right to keep and own a gun for self-protection or protection of property is a new phenomena that’s been pushed by the NRA. Lepore cites former Chief Justice Warren Berger saying that this interpretation of the Second Amendment is “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

But Lepore’s most compelling passage is about the state of the gun debate in the face recent school shootings and the Trayvon Martin killing.

One in three Americans knows someone who has been shot. As long as a candid discussion of guns is impossible, unfettered debate about the causes of violence is unimaginable. Gun-control advocates say the answer to gun violence is fewer guns. Gun-rights advocates say that the answer is more guns: things would have gone better, they suggest, if the faculty at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Chardon High School had been armed. That is the logic of the concealed-carry movement; that is how armed citizens have come to be patrolling the streets. That is not how civilians live. When carrying a concealed weapon for self-defense is understood not as a failure of civil society, to be mourned, but as an act of citizenship, to be vaunted, there is little civilian life left.

Read her entire piece here.

See also: “Why Are Guns So Important?”

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Does Being Healthy Have To Be Political?

By , April 17, 2012 2:42 pm

The numbers are hard to argue. What I found interesting wasn’t just the different lives these two men lived, but that healthy living is somehow a partisan issue. As long as that’s the case, there are going to be a lot of people who think living an unhealthy life is a exercise in political freedom.

It’s really an exercise in stupidity.

From Piers Morgan/CNN:

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Why Racism Matters

By , March 21, 2012 2:04 pm

Did you hear about the racist anti-Obama bumper sticker that said “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012“? That’s not the only one. Paula Smith of Hinesville, Georgia is selling her own version of the bumper sticker: “Don’t Re-Nig 2012.” Smith says it’s not racist.

“According to the dictionary [the N word] does not mean black. It means a low down, lazy, sorry, low down person. That’s what the N word means.” She adds, “And besides Obama is not even black. He’s got a mixture of race. It’s his choice of what his nationality is.”

Why should we pay attention to this ignorance? Joanna Schroeder in the Good Men Project tells us.

And lest we forget why any of this matters, why it matters that there are still people in our country who are racists, let’s remember Trayvon Martin and his heartbroken family, whose unarmed teenage son was gunned down in Florida; and the man who pursued him-George Zimmerman-chased him down against police advice, threatened him, terrified him and finally murdered him in cold blood at close range, is still walking the streets, never having been arrested.

Racism is alive and well. And we all have a duty to put an end to it.

Read her entire piece in the Good Men Project.

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The Two Different Sides of Delmar Blvd.

By , March 19, 2012 3:51 pm

BBC News profiled the wealth, education, and racial differences on the two sides of one street in St. Louis.

Delmar Boulevard divides a part of St. Louis with “million-dollar mansions directly to the south, and poverty-stricken areas to its north,” says the BBC.

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How different are the two sides of Delmar?

  • The median home value to the north of Delmar: $73,000. To the south: $335,000.
  • Median household income to the north: $18,000. To the south: $50,000
  • Residents with bachelors degrees to the north: 10%. To the south: 70%
  • The population north of Delmar is 98% black. The population south of it is 73% white.

The BBC talked to people living on both sides of Delmar about the two very different communities living across the street from one another. To no surprise, education and expectations are discussed by several residents.

See the entire story at BBC News.

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“Mad Men” And Lies

By , March 16, 2012 12:37 pm

As AMC’s Mad Men returns for its fifth season in just over a week (!!!) Slate’s Tanner Colby discusses how race has played a role in the show and how much it might surface in the upcoming season. In his second of two pieces, he makes a connection between the lies the characters live on the show and the lie of white supremacy in the American Dream.

Mad Men is a show about lies, the lies we tell about who we are and what our country is, and what happens when those lies fall apart. The whole idea of the 1950s, picket-fence, Ozzie and Harriet American Dream was a lie, a well-told tale conjured up by Madison Avenue to sell vacuum cleaners and automobiles. And the single biggest lie at the core of that American Dream was the myth of white supremacy, the delusion that allowed a nation of immigrants, outcasts, and orphans to galvanize their standing in a new social order where status and self-worth were rooted in the accident of not being born black. Who is Don Draper but a white man pretending to be a sort of white person he’s not, and who suffers a complete breakdown when that lie is exposed? And what could better symbolize the story of white America in the 1960s?

Read Colby’s two pieces here and here.

And read my 2010 piece about Mad Men and race here.

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CNN Contributor Roland Martin In Trouble Over Tweets About The David Beckham H&M Super Bowl Ad

By , February 7, 2012 2:07 pm

UPDATE: CNN suspended Roland Martin.

When the David Beckham underwear ad for clothing retailer H&M came on during the Super Bowl, CNN’s Roland Martin took to Twitter to comment on it. Now, Martin is under fire from gay rights group GLAAD.

Here are Martin’s tweets:

A lot of people on Twitter responded negatively to the remark, including GLAAD. The gay rights group and Martin had this exchange:

Critics also point to a history of remarks including this piece he wrote on his website in 2006. In the post, he equates homosexuality to sinful behavior like stealing and infidelity and says his wife, a Baptist minister, “has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle.”

On Monday, Martin posted this on his Twitter feed:

Fam, let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday. I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more.

Martin’s Twitter timeline is filled with protestations that he was just talking about soccer. Even if that’s the case, he implies football is a better sport because it’s manlier. And because it’s better and manly, it should beat up inferior and less manly sports – presumably, like soccer – and the people who like them. By saying a “real bruh” wouldn’t buy David Beckham’s underwear and by suggesting followers should “smack the ish [shit]” out of someone who likes the ad, he basically said my sport is better, manlier, and can kick the shit out of you and your sport.

That’s if you believe he was just talking about soccer, but I don’t think he was.
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News & Opinion 1-20-12

By , January 20, 2012 4:15 pm

I haven’t done one of these general News & Opinion links in a while. I came across some interesting stories this week, so I thought I’d share them.

Mitt Romney debates Martin Luther King, Jr. Romney doesn’t fare too well.

Before he dropped out of the presidential race, Rick Perry said at a debate that South Carolina is at war with the federal government. [Huffington Post] Since that wasn’t the first time Perry alluded to secession (for those who forgot, South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union at the start the Civil War), shouldn’t he be considered un-American?

Whether or not Jay-Z will stop using the word bitch in his music, would he need to do more? [Guardian] By the way, will he stop using “nigger,” too?

Administrators at a Utah high school reject the use of a cougar as its mascot because of the word’s meaning. Not the mountain lion definition, but the other “derogatory” definition. [SportsGrid]

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