…forgetting that Obama is black…


Chris Matthews “forgetting that Obama is black” falls into that same range of racism as “Pretty for a black girl” and the “You’re not like those other black people” claptrap often espoused by the “I’m not racist, but…” crowd. They’re coded as compliments, but the subtext is still an ugly one that frames racism as being the fault of the oppressed…

see: Transcending Race…A History Lesson

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15 thoughts on “…forgetting that Obama is black…

  1. In the sense that the implication is that Chris Matthews doesn’t expect black people, or even half-black people, to speak like he does, or actually, better than he does, since the way he talks makes me forget that he’s a potato-eating mick douchebag.

  2. When someone admits that he is xenophobic and conscious of superficial differences between people (most of us are) and then celebrates the (even temporary) shedding of this burden (most of us donâ??t), I think it makes sense to commend the best of what he says.

  3. @paulino…if he wanted to pretend he weren’t racist, he wouldn’t grab a giant megaphone and start talking about race. He looked to me like he genuinely felt that it was important to say that he himself got past something that he as a white person usually cannot: the awareness of race, at least to some degree. I don’t think that realizing that someone is black makes one racist in the strong sense, though it does mean one is living in a racist context. I see no justification for the stronger statements about Matthews.

    Matthews is a case of racial cluelessness, not purposive racism. The good thing is that it’s probably an instructive bit of….candor, actually….that reveals plainly what is always there, if unspoken. It’s jarring, and it made me question myself about some things that are so, so easy to forget about our society, especially if, like me, you’re white.

  4. The real Southern way is what Mark Twain wrote about:

    That’s mighty white of you.

    I think a lot of people are simply brought up with lies (most religious people for example). So they expect every black dude to rob them and so on. In my case, for example, if I didn’t eat my vegetables I’d be sold to the black guy who walked up and down the street with a small bag on his back asking folks if they had some odd job he could do to make a buck – apparently he was asking folks if they had any naughty kids they’d like to sell him so he’d have something to eat. It was so bad in my generation that my best buddy from high school would always get upset if he ever heard the word “black” – seriously, I couldn’t say things like “I only have a black and white TV” when I was around him. I think it’s also pretty obvious that Michael Jackson didn’t feel comfortable being who he was and had some bizarre desire to be white. It’s really horrible that the world should do that to a man, but that’s the way things were and still are, even in the USA.

  5. @roostershamblin: I love the blog – that’s all great advice for folks who’ve never worked with chickens. I haven’t raised chickens in over 20 years; maybe if I retire somewhere outside the city I can get back to raising ’em. Do you have problems with diseases like the bird flu? When I was in the tropics I had to watch my birds during the duck migration seasons; the ducks seemed to bring in the bird flu every other year (my memory may be no good anymore, but I swear the ducks killed an awful lot of chickens).

  6. Grego: You are dead wrong on this one, but it’s not your fault.

    This is generational, pure and simple. I’ve written here several times how hard it is for those of us born in the 50’s to shake off lingering, unconscious racism, racism born and nurtured in a racist household and country without owning some of those dreadful feelings. I am guessing that there is some sort of cultural anthropological explanation for how this happens. In any case, we know we have it, and we hate it.

    It shows up in so many ways.

    I can’t know this for sure: but friends I have that are your age, and younger, truly don’t see color. My god (it’s just an expression) how far we have come! It’s why we marched and struggled. It is why some died.

    Mathews has a very good civil rights record. He was just stating facts, that’s all. I am guessing he was just plain happy about it. I know how he feels, believe me.

    It’s just too easy to throw sticks at people. The younger in our population now are rightly indignant about racism. But do remember whence we came and the personal struggles of even those most committed to the cause.

    Certainly my own civil rights papers are in order. But still. I suppose it is like baby ducklings following mama off the cliff. But you will be able to offer a better explanation for how imprinted racism works. How hard it is to shake off even when you know in your heart is wrong.

  7. Michael, how can I possibly be “dead wrong” in a blog post in which I ask a question in which the first word of the quesiton is “does” written by me and the rest of the question is a quote from another site?

    Did you read my comment on that site? Last time I checked, it was in moderation. I have not commented on this post. I have not expressed an opinion or made any kind of statement on this specific issue.

    I may well be “dead wrong” but you would know this only from telepathy.

    Why don’t you tell me what you think I’m thinking about this!

  8. When Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his role in Training Day, he was asked by a reporter how he will feel the following morning, when he reads in the newspaper headlines that a black man has won the Oscar for best actor. Denzel replied, â??Why does it have to say black man?â? He is basically questioning the need to make that distinction. This comment by Chris Matthews seems to be in that same vein. The difference of course is that Chris is white. Hereâ??s a man who obviously adores Barrack Obama. Karnythia could have switched over to Fox for a few minutes and found someone more deserving of her scorn.

  9. Greg:

    me = stupid.

    I guess I thought there was some sort of implicit POV.

    But I was dead wrong.

    I WOULD like your view, though, on the cultural anthropological issue: about people in 50-70 range who grew up in a very racist country. In very racist household.

    It’s a different mind set than the younger ones. And it’s more than just ‘get over it’. It shows up in so many ways, largely as a set of background assumptions, sorta like not wanting to eat vegetables because dad didn’t like them. I don’t mean to be flip with the analogy. Shows how parental influence so imprints on the kids and can shadow life as an adult.

    I’m sayin’ this is where Mathews s coming from.

  10. I have no idea. The post linked was basically one long angry assertion with no real supporting evidence or even rhetoric.

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