Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On acting white…

We’ll be jumping right on into shit this morning, chil’ren.

I can not stand it when people refer to a person’s manner of speech as “talking white” or their ways as “acting white”.

Black is not a monolith and we do not all think, act, talk, eat, pray, fuck, sing, dance, vote or manifest anger the exact same motherfucking way.

If a black person is running for office that does not automatically mean that she or he is going to make affirmative action, poverty and pay-day loan scams the foundation of their platform. For the record – black America is also complex and there are a lot of policy issues that impact the lives of a majority of black people, which include but are not limited to poverty, affirmative action and pay-day loan scams.

Pause…breath in and then exhale…continue.

All people running for office…any office...should be expected to build a platform that addresses the needs of the people they wish to serve.

Black candidates…being human (gasp!) and therefore people (shock and awe!!)…should be held to that same standard.

That isn’t acting white…speeches about the shit are not examples of talking white…and this bitch is going to move past anger into some serious rage if one more motherfucker insults me and mine through the assertion that only white people discuss the economy, healthcare, the war and international diplomacy.

Ralph Nader ought to be ashamed of himself for high-jacking legitimate important policy issues and telling the American people that those are black issues.

He ought to be ashamed of himself for putting forth the notion that a black person isn’t fully black if they don’t act like he expects them to and society has instructed them to.

And he should have checked himself before he wrecked himself by jumping onto the ‘I can say this ig’nant, insulting and racially stereotyping bullshit because I’ve spent years channeling my white guilt into black people issues!’ platform with Geraldine Ferarro and the rest of the I’m-not-a-bigot-I-just-play-one-on-t.v. crowd that lurks within all political parties.

For the record, this is an example of a race card this bitch is familiar with…the one that has so-called allies maintaining low expectations and out-dated assumptions that they dress up in the language of the Civil Rights Era but which are actually built on a foundation of bigotry that’s been masquerading as tolerance far too long.

I leave you with the words of the fantabulous Aretha Franklin…

Let's go back, let's go back, let's go way on back when
I didn't even know you, you came to me and too much you wouldn't take
I ain't no psychiatrist, I ain't no doctor with degree
It don't take too much high IQ's to see what you're doing to me

You better think
Think
Think about what you're trying to do to me
Yeah, think
Think, think
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Oh freedom…freedom…freedom…

Yeah,

Freedom!

27 comments:

IseultTheIdle said...

Having gone back and re-read the interview, I think what Mr Nader was trying to say was that Mr Obama is not far enough to the left to suit him (big surprise there). The interviewer introduced the concept of "acting white", for who knows what reason or purpose except that hey, it's Colorado. And yeah, ol' Ralph ran with it because he was on a roll and that man has never been one to go with a nuanced opinion when a flamethrower was handy.

Doesn't negate your point, but it bears mentioning anyway.

Anonymous said...

The original piece has "acting white" in the headline but all the Nader quotes are about Obama "talking white". And as far as I can tell, Nader is referring to Obama directing his talk (his speeches, political agenda, etc.) to white people, not that he actually "sounds white". I do think that Nader is hinting that Obama is somehow not 'black enough' (whatever that means). Frankly, I think any candidate advocating real change should be promoting the ideas Nader finds lacking in the current political debates. Why is it that only a black candidate should be concerned with the poor and underserved?

miffedkit said...

It sounds like Mr. Nader is advocating for separate presidencies-- a Black president to deal with things like poverty and payday loans and a white president to deal with... I don't know, the economy, the war and all those things that (apparently) only white people care about?

When John Edwards was talking about poverty, did Nader say he was "talking black?"

PuckFinn said...

Anyway you slice it, Mr. Nader's comments show a blatant disregard for the community that he purports to be concerned about.

Personally, I don't care what he meant.

What he said paints us all as victims.
What he said shows his belief that he sees Barack as the possible president of the United States of Black America and that really plays into the fears of a lot of Americans.
What he said places burdens on Barack's future administration to do things all of the previous presidents should have done and that all presidents should do.
And also just makes me wonder if he, as a White American, would do the job as predident that he thinks that a Black man ought to do.

It's devise. It's reductive. It's insulting and it's racist.

(And I question his use of language. If he cares so much about the plight of Black Americans he should know how incendiary it is to even remotely appear to be acting a person's authenticity.)

PuckFinn said...

@ myself: I meant "questioning a person's authenticity."

midwesterntransport said...

let's not underplay the racism of mr. nader's statements, Other Commenters.

that shit was jacked. no two or three ways about it.

sheesh, nader. i can't even look at you today.

Anonymous said...

snarkishly - which white did he mean?

NancyP, who wishes Nader would just go away.

midwesterntransport said...

i mean, out of the many things that are wrong with what he said, what is for me the most presumptuous is "the first thing a black candidate should do..."

um, ralph? black people don't need us to tell them what to do. no really. i know that's hard to believe, and that in your anti-corporate rah-rah-rah you think you can say anything about anybody, but really dude...the thing about working against racism is acknowledging that poc don't need your permission or approval in any arena.

he...um...didn't get the memo.

Rileysdtr said...

(flips rapidly through O.E.D. for definition of "acting white".... hmm. No joy. Maybe wikipedia?)

catnmus said...

Nader is such a tool. If you substitute "Democrat" for "black" in the quotes in the article, you'd see a pretty good illustration of how/why the Green Party separates itself from the Democratic Party. But he didn't go there. Instead, by referring to race, he shows himself as an idiot bigot. What an ass. Hopefully this will keep everyone and anyone from thinking that Nader is an acceptable choice for president.

Melody said...

Ralph Nader is a tool. For years he paints himself as a person free from bigotry and yet he feels that this viewpoint of his is acceptable, no, commendable. Fuck you, Ralph Nader. And according to his theory of race based policy concerns, shouldn't Ralph Nader be soley concerned with Arab issues. What a complete DICK!

But I gotta say, I love that Ralph is scared of Obama. You know he's thinking, "aw damn all I ever got was a Native American woman on my ticket, I knew I shudda got a ..."

brian said...

I am amazed at how unnuanced many whites view blacks.
The differences between Bill Cosby and Redd Foxx seem obvious to me, but since both are black,their points of view must be identical.
Nader and Ferraro may never have met any blacks socially before they were adults, but both Clintons' and John Edwards sure did.
Romney,McCain,Paul and Huckabee not so much...
My education about this matter was cemented when after establishing a cordial telephone relationship with an individual, upon our meeting, there was visible shock.
I apparently sounded so "articulate" that the idea that I may have been a person of color never entered their mind.
Hey, I'm American and I speak English sometimes with multiple syllables!
How long will we be expected to meet the stereotypes of the majority community?

Bq said...

* just a sidenote - i don't think Nader is white. He's Lebanese. Not to take away from your point - I def. think that speech has issues.

Anonymous said...

WTF is up with Nader??? Is his brain whacked from huffing all those Green fumes?

Last time I checked, Obama didn't sound White or Black. He sounded AMERICAN.

Which is why I'm voting for him come November. Looking forwards to his first Address to the Nation...

MacDaddy said...

I read the entire thing. It wasn't just the statement itself but the arrogant tone of it as well. This arrogance speaks to the superiority complex of a white male who has never been able to pull many votes just to play spoiler in politics. His presumption of knowledge of black people and what any of them should do is pathetic. He's lost all respect from me.

membracid said...

Thank you. We were just boggling over Nader's comment when this popped up in my feed reader.
Perfect.

KBO said...

I really can't believe you are talking about this today, because we talked about it in my Critical Pedagogy class today, not in relation to Nader, but just discussing white privilege. There's nothing that irks me more than someone saying "acting/talking black/white".

Comes back to Paulo Friere discussing oppressed people rightly rejecting anything that could be linked to the oppressors. We're talking about dominant hegemonies fucking shit up. It makes me sick.

Homer said...

And in the gay community you have people who claim they are "straight-acting." Exactly how that works, I don't know.

Nancy said...

Easy, Homer. They think that all the acting they're doing is convincing people that they're straight. NOT.

Happy pride!

As for Nader, I love the guy--right up to 2000 and not a step beyond.

Joseph said...

I'm a huge fan of your blog and I am kicking myself for not commenting before now but...I have to ask for a pause and reconsider on this one.

We have been talking about this over on Racialicious so I'll just quote my post from there:

Ralph Nader is arguably the most successful American progressive activist of the late 20th century. The next time you stop short when you are driving and your kid doesn’t shoot through the windshield like a cannon ball you can thank Mr. Nader. He single-handedly took on one of the most powerful corporate cabals of 60’s America–the auto industry–and won. He is the reason your car is not a deathtrap. In the process of winning that fight they did everything they could to entrap and discredit him: investigations, phone taps, even trying to set him up with hookers.

None of it worked. He couldn’t be bought or silenced through these kind of Pink Panther machinations. So he knows a little something about moving within and against the white power structure in America.

When someone like Ralph Nader, a first generation Arab-American (in other words, a person of color)who grew up in the 1930s and 40s and has had to negotiate white America his entire life says the phrase “talk white” he knows exactly what that means.

I cosign Anonymous (#2) who wrote
"...Nader is referring to Obama directing his talk (his speeches, political agenda, etc.) to white people, not that he actually "sounds white".

Matthew said...

Still waiting for the outrage at Hillary’s insistence that a man pay her way.
She and that pathetic Geraldine Ferraro have set the women’s movement back forty years.
So much for the Clintonista so-called support for women’s equality.

http://elizabitch-ez.blogspot.com/

Shark-fu said...

Joseph...
Thank you for the comment.

As a person of color, he more than others should know the impact of his words and how they will be interpreted by others. And as a person of color he, more than others, should know the damage done when one connects the responsibilities held by all politicians to their race.

Because he navigated America through some of our most turbulent years, Nader's actions are even more worthy of condemnation.

Such is the burden of an enlightened mind...to whom much is given much is expected.

Sadly, Nader has damaged his legacy and his message when we need it most and he need only look in the mirror to find the source.

Avedon said...

Just for the record, Nader has always been an arrogant dick, and one reason he has failed as a movement-builder is that he doesn't talk much about those "issues that are important to blacks", either.

It's obvious to any observer that one of the things that makes Obama attractive is that he talks middle class - while a white politician can not only get away with a southern accent (even promote it into a positive), black people with that accent get pegged as "sounding black". Obama sounds like white people on American sitcoms. Of course, so do a lot of other black people from the north or army brats or whatever, but white people do have their stereotypes.

But a lot of people have allowed the right-wing to get away with the kind of stereotyping Nader is doing for so long that many liberals have fallen for it, demoting issues of class and poverty to the back-burner and pretending it's just a "black" thing. Now they're reaping the diseased crop as they find that even people who were comfortably white middle-class not so long ago are getting closer and closer to the poverty line - or falling right over it.

The right-wing wanted us to think of all of these things as "special interest" issues, when, of course, they are everyone's issues. Childcare, healthcare, workers' wages and safety - it's not just about poor black folk, or women, or single-moms, is it? But somehow that all just became someone else's problem. Until it becomes yours.

Dusty said...

I have never been a Nader fan first off. I believe he enters the fray for several reasons..but most not good or valid reasons.

Lately I have noticed that the..cough..media is baiting these guys. Charlie Black's dumbass fell for it and so it Naders the other day.

But there is no excuse when you take the 'ball' and run with it as Nader did. He and Geraldine Ferraro are peering out of the same cesspool in my humble but very vocal opinion.

Both are nothing more than attention whores like that 3 year old who throws a huge hissy fit in the middle of the store. As the parent you want to die or smack the taste righ out of that child's mouth.

But you can't do either so how do you handle it?

I would just walk away from my son when he pulled that shit. I would get as far down the aisle as I could where I could still see him, but I wasn't in his sphere. He would suddenly stop when he noticed I wasn't there and coming running down the aisle looking for me. Wherein I would tell him if he didn't cool his jets he was going to find himself sitting in a corner at home all by his lonesome and he wouldn't like it one damn bit.

Sometimes I think we all need to walk away from the Naders, the Ferraros and their ilk..refuse to give them what they want..publicity and another 15 mins of that fleeting fame they so desperately crave.

Anonymous said...

Joseph, confrontational protest and effective Presidential political dealings with the House and Senate take two different sorts of personalities and two different skill sets.

Nader did a good job in the 1960s and 1970s.

Obama talks to the lower and upper middle class because those are the people who get out and vote. The lower middle class, and for that matter some of the upper middle class, are seriously worried about health care to the point where single-payer, long termed "socialistic", looks attractive (especially when it is phrased as making medicare available for all).

The very poor generally don't vote, either because they don't think their vote counts, or because they are too busy juggling minimum wage jobs, child raising, and so on, and simply don't have time. If you have 4 kids and no reliable free sitter, you end up dragging all the kids to the voting station, doctor's appointments, and so on.

NancyP

Ashley said...

payday loan scams? LOL.

we should all have enough humility to be able to laugh at our own stereotypes. not everyone does. :)

The Truffle said...

IIRC, someone criticized Oprah for talking "white." A black friend of mine said, "No, the term is not white. The term is EDUCATED."

There's a really unpleasant racism to claiming that a black person "talks/acts white." The underlying message is: "The uppity Negro should stay in his place."