Eric Holder, America’s first African American Attorney General under America’s first black President, said in a speech to Department of Justice employees celebrating Black History Month, that we are a “nation of cowards” because we don’t like to talk candidly about race. This is wrong on so many levels.
Any time we still have to describe people and their accomplishments as “history making” based on skin color, we have a problem with race. It’s 2009, for Goodness sakes, and we still have cause to celebrate racial “firsts.” Not only that, we’ve barely scratched the surface; we have yet to have our “first black” lots of things, like, Senate Majority Leader; hell we’ve barely had any black Senators, given that the nation’s fifth is now president. We, as a nation, have never had a Native American much of anything politically significant, either; the same is true for many other racially diverse groups. And, as we all know, our history regarding women’s history, contributions, and employment issues, not to mention those of LGBT people living openly, and people living with disabilities, is woefully deficient.
But, does not talking about it make us cowards? What good does endless recriminatory discussion do? Does that really advance anybody’s cause, or does it merely inflame passions needlessly?
In this little community we’ve established here in this little corner of the blogosphere, nobody is required to declare their race, ethnicity, gender, or anything else, nor are they expected to check them at the door, unless they choose to, and we seem to get along pretty well. Our commonality is based on things other than physical characteristics, like opinion and ideology. How we think and feel is much more important than how we look, love or pee.
Barack Obama should not be president because he’s black, Eric Holder should not be attorney general for that reason, either. Because that issue was promoted as justification for their attaining their respective positions, many of us were offended, while, to be honest, many more felt vindicated. The disappointment was not limited to people of any particular group, though African Americans disproportionately embraced the counter opinion. Just as many men felt, and still feel, that Hillary Clinton was the better Democratic choice, and many white Republicans felt similarly about John McCain, many black Americans, like me, feel that Barack Obama was not. Race and gender most often had nothing to do with it.
I call our president Black Obama because his racial background played far too large a part in his election. When he secured the nomination of his party, fraudulently in my opinion, that fraud was validated by “the historic nature of his candidacy,” blah, blah, blah. His, and his campaign’s, deliberate, subtle, and blatant exploitation of his racial background was shameful to me. Race should never trump integrity. Just because we’ve never had a black president is no reason to embrace this one.
Yet, once he was elected, all sorts of racial baggage was either laid at his feet, or more often, exonerated, while the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement’s triumphs was awarded to him simply because of who his father happened to be. His own lack of accomplishment, experience, preparedness and qualification was magically rendered irrelevant because he’s a black man.
Seems to me, as long as all we’re expected to do is talk about what’s wrong, and what has been wrong in the past, those things will continue to happen, and continue to be wrong. Once we decide that these things don’t deserve discussion, contemplation, or consideration, there won’t be anything to talk about, anyway. When it comes to equality and diversity, let’s all just shut up and do the damned thing.
That being said, when racism, sexism and/or any other “-ism” rears its ugly head, it should be immediately, and uncategorically, rejected by all. The only caveat, and it’s a big one, is that “-isms” are like pornography, hard to define quantitatively. While we claim to know it when we see it, ultimately, offense is in the eye of the beholder. On those occasions, just like any other when one experiences hurt at the hands of another, protest is only to be expected. Yet that protest should be limited to that particular incident; revisiting old issues only opens old wounds and diverts attention from the problem at hand, greatly increasing the odds that nothing will be resolved. “You hurt my feelings,” will usually result in an immediate apology, “you always hurt my feelings,” will probably result in a fight.
Eric Holder said:
…”we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”
I think he’s half right; we, as average Americans, don’t talk to each other, period. If we did, race would probably never come up. And when, and if, it did, we’d probably be able to work it out.
Cross posted at Cinie’s World with one modification; I removed a link to the post below, since, it’s the post below.