Thursday, January 17, 2008

the race of the century

i know, not really tough competition, considering the century just got started. i think what i really meant to say was something along the lines of "the race thats going to feel like it took a century to finish." i mean come on. if the entire new york times appears to be devoted to the presidential race now, feel free to put me out of my misery a good few months before november.

but thats beside the point. what i actually wanted to talk about re: ELECTION 2008!!!!! is the whole "black man" "white woman" thing. actually, maybe we should clarify. because barack seems all about calling himself black but never manages to mention the man. and hillary is equally gung-ho about being a woman but never seems to squeeze in the "white." i'm just pointing this out because i feel like the dialogue surrounding this whole barack v. hillary thing is both completely obsessed with race and gender yet magically and simultaneously completely uncritical. and through the eyes of a black woman, some of the failures of this dialogue seem pretty obvious. for example, hey: did you know that both race AND gender are a part of everyone's identities? shocking. if you liked that one, be sure to stick around for lesson 2: why a mention of past cocaine use is not synonymous with "bringing race into the conversation."

anyways so i don't even have any answers here, but i wanted to leave a couple thoughts for you to ponder as you procrastinate from whatever it is you're actually supposed to be doing. i'm sick of complaining about how the media is racist and sexist, so i'm going to go ahead and ignore all the idiotic things they say and try to spark an actual dialogue about the issues of race and gender in this election. here's some food for thought. in my favorite: an itemized list!

1. i read an interesting op-ed in the new york times the other day arguing that hillary's appeal to the idea of being the first female president is basically "so last year." meaning that even though we've never had a female president, people feel like women are not so badly-off in this society. there are a lot of (white) women in positions of power in this country, whereas minorities (and the columnist argues minority males, although i have to point out that just because black girls are doing better in school than black boys, it doesn't mean they're doing great) are struggling. so barack is more of an inspirational figure because black is a bigger barrier than woman?

2. but if THAT'S the case, then how come the media is all up on hillary, and they can't seem to get enough barack-love? i actually read an op-ed the other day that criticized hillary clinton for wearing a similar outfit to two different interviews. seriously? unless barack wore a suit to one and hammer pants to the next, i'm going to have to assume hillary wasn't the only one who made that faux pas. and i won't get started on the whole "crying" thing, because it will just make me mad. and i'm in my happy place. in fact, to read more on why woman might be a bigger barrier than black, just see my last post. also see the life and times of Shirley Chisholm - that black woman no one ever even knew ran for president.

3. more and more i see/hear black people flocking to obama, saying we have to stick together, getting mad at hillary for one perceived slight or another. i had to stop reading the field negro, which used to be entertaining for me, because it just got too damn sexist. dude was talking about what "the man on the street" thinks, as if there is no woman on the street. talking about how black people need to stick together, calling anyone who defends hillary against barack a house negro. first of all, that metaphor is really getting overplayed. second of all, just because there's no term for a gender "house negro" doesn't mean i owe you shit, black men. so please stop acting like the only thing that matters to black people is their blackness, just because thats the only thing you personally, as a wealthy straight black man, have going on.

4. and i mean, i could go on for days with the thoughts i've been storing up, but i sense that my grammar is not that on point tonight, so i want to wrap it up before i embarrass myself: why is it that "i don't want to bring (race)(gender) into this" is such a hot thing to say in this election? we have a black man and a white woman in the running for the democratic nomination, and people DON'T want to talk about race and gender? i get that as a candidate, you might not want to consistently bring up the thing that makes some people uncomfortable about you, but i also kind of feel like you look like a straight up idiot not talking about it. and beside that, this is sort of a moment in history. there's an opportunity here for our country's fucked up issues around race and gender to become something people actually WANT to discuss. something that's in the news, something that people are talking about and maybe developing a more critical view of. that seems like something you might want to go for, no? and frankly, bottom line, even if americans arent "ready" to talk about race and gender at a higher level than "women cry a lot" or "i don't trust black people," if people aren't ready to talk about it they're probably not ready to have a white woman or a black man as their president. so if hillary and barack are trying to win this thing, they might want to start thinking about ways to talk about their own identities without causing pandemonium. but i guess thats just a thought.


brotherkomrade said...

I'm not sure about the "misogynous" positions or race fundamentalism that FN is accused of, but I will say that Obama and Clinton are political twins coming from a political party that only represents the ruling class of this country; therefore I cannot support him just because he is black and his only way of distancing himself from Clinton is that he didn't vote for the occupation of Iraq. However, it is just as silly for me as a man who believes in women having power for me support Clinton or even sympathize for her when she like many other men on the senate sealed the fates of many women in Iraq who are dead now.

It would be refreshing to see someone blog from a revolutionary perspective on this matter(other myself, of course). Oh wel, I guess I'l just have to keep searching..
I will be voting for Cynthia McKinney btw.

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