It is a sentiment that is politically unpopular. To say anything that promotes the reality that racism is alive and well in post-racism America is to invite ridicule and exclusion. To say that racism is a factor in our day to day lives gives people carte blanch to respond with accusations of being a person who chases the ambulance of racism or staring into the abyss of racism and suddenly seeing it everywhere. Racism is our dirty little secret that accounts for so much disparity in the perceptions of black and white people. But few people in high profile political circles want to bring the subject up when it can be most accurately applied.
Indeed, many conservatives have slammed President Barack Obama as being a hate filled racist. Popular conservative talk show hosts have wasted no opportunity to slam Mr. Obama as a racist. Glen Beck says that Mr. Obama has a deep seated hatred for white people. Rush Limbaugh says Mr. Obama chooses people who are racist against white people for the Supreme Court. Tons of high profile conservatives have stood in line to call Mr. Obama a racist for throwing his white grandmother under the proverbial bus because he called her a typical white person. And yet, when anyone even hints at suggesting that racism is playing a role in the criticism against Mr. Obama, people want to roll their eyes and huff their exasperation like a steam powered locomotive as they do their best to defuse the suggestion.
Close your eyes and you can imagine Mr. Obama assuring people with, “Let me be perfectly clear. Racism is still a factor in America. But it has absolutely nothing to do in this particular case.” Mr. Obama will dodge the issue of racism like former President George Bush dodges shoes. Instead of calling out blatant acts of racial disparity, Mr. Obama would rather have a beer summit and bury the racial hatchet dripping with the blood of people who simply have to suffer inequality as just a part of the American way of life. Let the other side play the race card. Mr. Obama is happy to act as if the race card simply doesn’t exist.
Out of the entire pool of high profile black politicians, celebrities, and political pundits, the number of black community leaders willing to call out racism and/or acts of racism can be counted on one’s fingers. Most high profile blacks would rather tell black people to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down and roll the fuck over as civil rights are trampled. Most are happy to leave the dirty work to other people with well earned reputations for pissing off the racially generic dominant community. The black community has lost the will to even control the conversation of racism. Racism is now defined by people like Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Beck who earn multi million dollar salaries by catering to people who belong to a political party void of any real racial inclusion.
Leave it to former President Jimmy Carter to pull out the big guns and try to put the conversation about racism back on track. Mr. Carter goes where a black President fears to tread. Mr. Carter says that racism is behind much of the criticism against Mr. Obama. It is as plain as the many signs conservatives hold to vent their rage against a black President. There are signs showing Mr. Obama as an African witch doctor. There are signs questioning the President’s patriotism. There are signs with guns and the suggestion that people are ready to put them to use. Never mind all that.
Never mind all the accusation before the election that he didn’t have enough executive experience even though he had just as much as his conservative opponent, or accusations that people didn’t know anything about Mr. Obama, even though he was the junior United States Senator from Illinois since January of 2005. Never mind the fact that people continue to swear he’s not an American citizen because they refuse to accept the fact that he has a Hawaiian birth certificate and no other modern President has been hounded so persistently for proof of citizenship. Never mind the fact that proof has been supplied and rejected. Never mind that this is the first President people feel entitled to heckle during his public address.
It is very true that no matter what Democrat got into office he or she would be hounded by conservative leaning opponents. When President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton tried to push healthcare reform through the legislature they were met by a viciously resistant organized opposition. But never did their ethnicity or race or culture or religion or family history play a part in that opposition. There is no shortage of people willing to dismiss or minimize Mr. Obama as an undercover Muslim or an African or some other illegal alien. And the number of people ready to play the race card against Mr. Obama appears to grow minute by minute.
But while Mr. Carter stands tall to say that which many fear to say, he stands alone. The White House was quick to distance itself from Mr. Carter’s statement. In true Barack Obama form the issue of race needs to be avoided at any and all cost. In typical high profile black people fashion race refuse to be acknowledged as a factor. Despite the fact that many conservatives see race, many conservatives will distribute CDs with songs like “Barack the Magic Negro” or show pictures of Presidents in official poses but where in the space where Mr. Obama’s picture should be there is nothing but an ogling round eyeballs against a black background. But neither racism nor race is a factor here.
Just like when his attorney general Eric Holder put race at the forefront when he gave his speech on race relations during Black History month back in February, the Obama administration refuses to step to the plate with anything resembling racial courage. There is way too much to lose by pointing to racism as a contributing factor here. It’s too easy for racist to say that their resistance is because of something else. All a racist has to say is that they don’t support the black candidate because of policy or his lack of experience on the subject at hand. Don’t pay any attention to that sign with Mr. Obama as an African witch doctor with the caption “lyin’ African”.
Mr. Carter is one of the few people ready to show solidarity in the fight against blatant racism. He has nothing to lose, he has no agenda to push. So people can’t say that he’s just out for some personal gain. Mr. Carter is looking at the racial landscape and sees the reality that racism is a huge factor at play here. Everybody can deny it. Even Mr. Obama can refuse to admit that he is the victim of it. But the fact of the matter is that racism is alive and well in America and is a deciding factor for way too many Americans.