Thursday, June 05, 2008

Applause for Bigotry?

I’m curious about the media’s insistence on referring to Barrack Obama as the first black candidate nominated by his party. After his victories earlier this week the headlines across America lead their stories with some variation of this theme. I might be accused of picking knit, but the tiniest bit of research indicates Mr. Obama is neither all black nor all white.

It leaves me with the idea that this is merely a new chapter in American racial bigotry rather than the mining of a new vein of acceptance and race blindness. What dictates that a bi-racial man is black rather than white? Is it because his appearance presents the image that lives in our minds about what a black man looks like?

Is it more sinister than that simplistic observation? Is it possible that our culture is presenting that once a white woman or white man has produced a child with a black person that the child is considered black rather than white because of institutionalized cultural agreement on permanent blemish or social devaluation?

This is my question for America. Why do we not refer to Mr. Obama as the first bi-racial candidate nominated by his party? Is this insistence that he is a black man America’s hoping and dreaming that our prejudice is resolved by electing a black man, when we actually elect a man that is both black and white?

Is the prospect that two races have merged to produce a unique and talented individual just too underwhelming for journalism? Or, is it possibly the biggest story of the day, left unearthed by a media stuffed full of its own unobserved bigotry?

You tell me.

11 Comments:

Blogger Jenn said...

I agree with you. I've wondered the same thing many times.

I read an article online yesterday - about how the nomination has been viewed globally - and one part really struck me as something that,here in America, many people have yet to understand.

The point the interviewee was making was that Obama looks like 'everyman'. That his skin color can be found in any country...or culture in the world.

It wasn't about black or white - it was about how Obama can be seen to represent many cultures.

I like the idea of 'everyman'.

June 5, 2008 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7, we have similar views for similar reasons. Remember that the press is writing or editorializing to the 8th grade, assumed to be the median education level; and so has not yet arrived at a term meaningful enough to describe what the 8th grade idjut comprehends. Instead of educating the public where other institutions seem to have failed, the media still crawls along on hands and knees using language that can be checked off in little boxes.
Rob

June 5, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Reach said...

Seven,
So many questions; unfortunately, I would like to add one more probe for opinion.

The Democratic Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, historically prides itself in Left-Wing politics and the continuing strives toward reform and equal distribution of wealth and privilege. This said, why is the oldest political party in our country (nay the world), waiting some fifty years beyond a nation’s bicentennial to be the first with a nomination based on race?

One would think any proactive and progressively caring organization would not take this much time toward a revolutionary event.

Be Safe,

Reach

June 5, 2008 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

I would challenge the premise that a single political party has a duty to discharge with respect to bigotry and and elections, but I would simultaneously embrace your question in a positive light by asking why the Bush Administration receives no acknowledgment after appointing legions of very qualified minorities to key leadership positions. In fact, those key government leaders have been judged lacking in blackness or brownness by 'race industry' leaders because they are not in the suitable political party.
In my opinion the truth seeking individual lands on the idea that power and its pursuit, including party alignment, trump the bonds of race. This is another way of saying that our human trait for survival and dominance lies higher on the outline than race considerations or our skin color. This is also an inarticulate way of stating that race is immaterial in a political context in virtually any conversation.
In this convoluted way I believe your question can be answered. It is about power my friend, not about race.

June 5, 2008 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

Jennster,
I have a concept that I work with mentally and have written about here before. The concept is that race is only a man-made concept. It is a man-made construct for division and warfare when viewed in a global manner. As a man made construct it is possible to view and embrace the idea that race is not actually real. Thus everyman and woman is identical in their base humanity . Therefore we become everyman and everywoman. I have met deep resistance regarding this idea from many self-professed media indoctrinated liberals portraying themselves as unprejudiced. Their rational is typically that all people should be celebrated for their cultural differences and we should embrace our differences and love all races, ala National Public Radio drivel. It is my opinion this is a repetitive regurgitation of popular "I'm a good person-speak"
If I asked could we divide mankind by their height, that is to have classes of people based on their height, these same people would tell me that the idea is ridiculous. Nevertheless they cling to the idea that skin color is a rational and celebratory way to divide and categorize humankind. I very much like your idea of everyman. We each are different and unique, but we are everyman and everywoman in our essential humanity. Thanks for commenting.

June 5, 2008 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

Rob,
I think that is a powerful comment. The media I think is much like any other profession. In architecture we often see designs that mimic other well accepted designs, creating a pattern of design behavior. Rather than stretching the envelope in a search for design truth we repeat the ideas others no matter the environmental and design realities at play. I agree with you that this is likely to happen in journalism as well. And of course we are saturated with coverage. Lately I have turned it off and sat in silence for long periods. I have found it difficult. Maybe an addiction to the noise, no matter how false the noise might be? Good comment, thanks.

June 5, 2008 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

It is interesting that what was once an unfavorable designation ("a drop of black blood makes me and my line 'black' forever") has become just the opposite ("if I have one drop of black blood, I AM BLACK"). But isn't it interesting that children of other mixes are considered just that ... mixes? I have about a drop of Indian blood, but I don't qualify to belong to any tribe nor would I expect to be referred to as "Indian" or "Native American." Just a random asides, there.

In a nutshell, we in America are so far behind most of the rest of the world in this area (and some others). Bi-racial or multi-racial is what most of us are. It's not a big deal. It has been going on for centuries!

I have a political leaning, but I've always voted for a candidate because of what he or she stands for or represents, what is promised for my future, how each one aligns with my thinking and ethics. Beyond that, they become pretty faceless to me, so race, skin color, gender are non-issues.

The media? Oh, give me a break! The media does what they do for a story, a by-line, to get paid. Honestly? Keeping controversy in the news pays off.

Ah, I feel better now!

June 6, 2008 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

SL,
I agree wholeheartedly that controversy is what fuels the news media, which begs the question of why we naturally gravitate as a culture to controversy rather than cohesion. I'm not sure the rest of the world has a better positioning on race relations than we do, in fact my travels and readings tell me racism is a far bigger problem in other parts of the world than in the US. We do have inner-city v 'those who cling to their bitterness' divisions, but we just fuss. In many parts of the world the racial divide is cause for genocide.
I do think that we as bloggers have a nice opportunity to counterbalance the commercial media. Unfortunately I am too often seeing that influential bloggers mimic the commercial press; a bit of an opportunity lost?
And as always you spread the love around making me much more comfortable that your kind outnumbers the other kind. Thanks as always for being here.

June 6, 2008 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

Seven, I went away for a a couple days, and while I was away, I was thinking about this. I realized that my "we do worse" statement was likely to be read as you did. Not my intent, of course. I'm well aware of the abominations visited on many, many around the world, and I did not mean that it is "better."

I should have said excluding third world nations..... bi- and multi-racial relationships are so far more accepted in many places. I listen to the hate spewers here in the US (yes, I've read a few of those blogs that you refer to) and I wonder how many of them are really so "racially pure" as they seem to think they are.

The whole history of the US is blurred and has many hidden facts. Have you read "Lies My Teacher Told Me"? It scratches the surface of it. In my own history are many questions. My brother does extensive genealogical study, and while some of our ancestors have said we have Iroquois blood, he has been unable to find a trace of it. People who married "Indians" often changed their names to "English" ones to lessen the stigma. And there is a ton of curly hair in my family, much of it kinky tight and olive skin runs in the other side of the family, yet we find no traces of Black in the family by the records, despite the fact that the family came originally from the Virginias. I have no delusions about those possibilities, nor would I hide them, but the record keeping covers up many facts.

We are not, on this continent, "pure", despite what some would have us think or like to think themselves, and we don't deal with it rationally, with acceptance. That was my point. :)

June 7, 2008 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

Honestly, what makes the difference?

June 10, 2008 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger ~grey said...

I am Canadian and have no idea about "American" Politics.

But... why do we as a Nation still care what colour someone is... He is "Black"... Ya so!!! Get over it...

Is he really the best PERSON for the job...

June 11, 2008 at 12:33 PM  

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