Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We Ain't Mad about the Chains


Anger. We've heard a lot about it for over three years now. It has been used as an excuse for carrying guns to political rallies. To excuse incivility. It has been used to make wild personal and political accusations. 

But anger is also an excuse to dismiss those with whom you don't want to deal. For instance, this has been branded as 'angry' and 'hate'...



Now let's be clear. I think that Joe Biden tends to hyperbolic. You never know what he's going to say next. The Vice-President easily gets in places where he goes 'off script'. And this is clearly one of them. But the Vice-President was not using 'hate speech' or even being offensive to what has been acknowledged as an audience with a significant number of black people present. There are those who seem to delight in insulting the intelligence of black Americans. We don't know that we 'code words' when we hear them. We don't know when someone is talking in derogatory ways when we hear it. And if we do recognize 'code' or derogation, it must be either someone 'misspeaking'. And we must be told when someone is using real hate speech, because we are incapable of recognizing it. 

It is really offensive...

Mitt Romney has only appeared before one black audience - the NAACP. He has, to my knowledge, visited no other black group. He has not spoken out on any issue that disproportionately impacts blacks except for unemployment, for which he has put out no comprehensive plan for any American, black, white or green. He has not spoken out on the voter suppression laws that have seeped like a virus throughout more than half the states in our country and threaten to 'fix' the election on behalf of his party. And, when true hate speech has been used by members of his party, he has remained eerily silent. A strange silence for one who wants to turn down heated rhetoric so that we can have a campaign on 'big ideas'. 

In the meantime, this exchange with a Romney surrogate sounds more like 'anger' to me...



Black people do indeed have a right to be angry. In more than 30 states, laws have been passed to suppress the minority vote. Black wealth was destroyed as a consequence of the 'trickle down' economic policies - the same policies proposed as a remedy for the mess they've gotten us into. 
The first black President has been disrespected, publicly, not just by citizens, but by sitting members of Congress, by governors, by federal judges and by candidates for his office, based on his race. By percentage, black poverty and black unemployment has always been higher than white poverty and white poverty in this country. Our schools are worse and disproportionately more likely to go to prison than to college. He has been painted as an 'other', having had his citizenship, his patriotism not just questioned but defamed. And each slur, each hateful accusation been dismissed as being an 'honest difference of opinion' or, oh yeah, because people are 'angry'. 

No 'anger' stoked by Vice-President Biden's use of the imagery of 'chains'. No, the anger has been there a long time. It's simply that it's easier so far, to stay among those who won't challenge you, so you can ignore that anger. It's too bad. Because if he would take the time to talk with an audience of black people, he'd find out what we're really angry about. And it has nothing to do with Joe Biden's use of the word 'chains'...

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