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Sparkly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-06-08 08:34 PM
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Who's afraid of Obama being a black man?
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Barack Hussein Obama is a black man. Is that scary to read?

Supposedly, the fear here is that it's scary to other people. Paradoxically, it seems the fear of their fear has a lot of Democrats nervous. But racists aren't a big constituency among Democratic voters; they likely wouldn't vote for ANY Democrat. We lost that vote a long time ago (and much as I believe in a big tent, that's a good riddance).

This primary season can create a lot of constructive thought and discussion on race and gender, and I think it'd be good to get clear on some of these issues.

1. The idea of "injecting race into the race" or "making him the black candidate." Race is in the race, and he is the black candidate. I think what's meant by this is "racISM," and marginalizing or dismissing Obama based on his being a black candidate. That's an important distinction. There shouldn't be any discomfort about the fact that race is in the race (as is gender) and that he is a black candidate -- one who's come further than any other in our history, who has minorities excited and voting for him in huge numbers, and who may be the next president. Not only should there be no discomfort, it should be celebrated, proudly.

2. The name "Hussein" as a smear. Saying the name is not a smear, it's a fact. I think what's feared here is the implication of something sinister from the name Hussein. Again, that's an important distinction. There shouldn't be any discomfort about the name Hussein itself. It's a fine name with positive meaning. There's no reason for Democrats to act like there's something to be ashamed of or hidden.

3. The color of his skin, and his facial features. The hysteria over "making him blacker," supposedly widening his nose into something that looks (gasp!) "more African American" and "messing with his lower lip" is absurd to me!! Who on earth, persuaded to vote for him, would change their mind after seeing something that made him look "blacker?" Is there a threshold for blackness, beyond which it's unacceptable? I understand there are racists -- they aren't voting for him anyway. I also understand that darkening photos is a technique for making an image seem sinister -- but that's not the claim here. I'm not hearing complaints about "sinister," I'm hearing complaints having to do with race. (Need I point out that "black" and "sinister" aren't the same thing?)

4. The photo of Obama in traditional Somali dress. It was treated as though somebody leaked a secret hidden photo or photoshopped it to create something damning. Again, let's be clear that it's not the attire or the photo that are the problem. If there was something false that was being said, with the photo as false evidence, then the problem is about whatever false was being said. Let's not act as though there's something shameful about the photo or the visit or the clothing. There isn't.

5. Finally, on being Muslim. The fact is he's NOT Muslim, so it's a lie that should be corrected. But it's only damning as an implication tied to smears that he could be a closet terrorist or something. That is the issue. So while the facts about his religion should be corrected, the notion that he's anti-American is what needs to be fought against. "Muslim" is not synonymous with "terrorist" and we shouldn't act as though it were.

So, I don't think we need to protect Obama from the facts of his identity and experience.

The uncomfortable question is: Who is really nervous and afraid of Obama being a black man? Because it seems, far too often, that it's people who are on his side.

(I know the very subject makes people nervous and defensive, so I'm going out on a limb here. Not the first time. Flame if you must!)
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