As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Saturday, March 23

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


The Mechanics
« Early Voting Begins Today Human Trafficking Awareness Day »

Blagojevich Mon Jan 11 2010

The Real Ignorance Behind Blago And Reid's Comments

I've been waiting for someone to analyze what's common about Harry Reid's comments and Blagojevich's but none of my regular writers have seen the pattern like I have. Basically, both comments illustrate what some white politicians think a black person is. If you synthesize the comments, a black person is someone who is poor, "shine[s] shoes", and has a "negro dialect" (presumably meaning somewhat inarticulate). The real tragedy behind both of these comments is they betray a perception of what it is to be black.

The truth is, for these guys simply being black isn't enough to qualify as being black, one has to fit the stereotype. President Obama is exceptional and thus not black in the usual sense because he's not poor and articulates his words. But that would make a lot of black people (me included) not black. But I'm regularly classified as black. People I meet at first think I'm black. On most documents that others fill out for me, they check the black box. My mother is black. By Reid's or Blagojevich's definition though, I wouldn't qualify as black even though I am, by definition, black.

In short, what those comments show is that being a black person is not singly having black skin, it's matching a stereotype.

(Crossposted)

 
GB store

Ramsin / January 11, 2010 11:07 AM

Daniel-
I was talking about this with someone this morning. It's the problem with identity politics overall: you have to meet certain criteria to be "truly" Black, Latino, Assyrian, whatever. And those criteria are completely subjective. It's ridiculous.

The same way an old white politician from Nevada associates "being black" with certain features, so would black nationalists accuse a person who identifies themselves as black as being "not black enough" based on who they fall in love with or who their friends are.

The Blago comment is worse in my mind because to him, the fact that Obama did not end up shining shoes or living in a five room apartment means he isn't "authentically" black (when what he means is that he isn't authentically working class). So explicitly associating shoe shining with being a Black man is some old school Birth of a Nation racism.

Daniel / January 11, 2010 11:52 AM

The irony, of course, in the Blago criteria is that Obama is by definition black since he did grow up in a working-class surrounding. If he were to still insist that Obama isn't truly black that would mean to be black is to be working class etc.

GB store

Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project
GB store



About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing, mike@gapersblock.com
Mechanics staff inbox: mechanics@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15