Okay here we go.
Listen...men and women aren't the same. People of different races look different. Cultures have differences. This can't be a sanitized world in which we all try to pretend we are just! the! same!
I cannot retain a telephone number to save my life. It took me thirty years to finally grasp basic algebra. I'm white and can't go in the sun because I burn too easily. I'm tall and getting back to thin. I look like a total gringo but that's just my phenotype; my genotype is far more convoluted. I can read faster than anyone I know. I love public speaking, especially teaching/educating. I can hear accents in any language.
Are you just like me?
There are days I can hardly stand myself. Don't know what I'd do with two of me.
The point is...who cares.
I'll tell you who cares how job candidates look and refer to them thusly: the media.
The media has fallen in love with their ability to apply clever monikers to people in the news. It's been mocked, on TV shows such as Saturday Night Live, within the media itself, and even in movies. I'm thinking of Spiderman (was it movie 3?) in which the news guys are bantering back and forth about what tag to apply to the newest villain. They finally settled on Oct Doc (or somesuch).
Soundbite. Tag line. Cleverness.
Journalists, newscasters, news writers, news editors, and media hotshots, here's a request:
As a member of the American public, who represents at least 5% of it, I'd like to request---on behalf of myself and others sort of like me---that you quit underestimating our ability to grasp complicated concepts such as A Proper Name versus a Cutesy or Offensive Moniker.
I'm quite bright enough, thank you very much, to understand who Barack Obama is.
You need not continue to refer to him as The Black Candidate.
Frankly, that offends me.
It will further offend me if (God willing) he is elected to the office of the president and you refer to him as The Black President.
However, all of that is a drop in the bucket compared to the question all of you media sorts can't seem to stop asking:
Can the US elect a black man as president?
Now...when Clinton ran, I don't remember us asking, "Can the US elect a redneck from Arkansas?"
Now...when Bush ran, I don't remember us asking, "Can the US elect a white dumb(*$% from Texas?"
I wasn't around when Kennedy ran (sorry) but I will concede I *heard* that the media asked, "Can the US elect a Catholic?"
As someone involved in a somewhat bizarre love triangle with Catholicism, I will concede that there is a slight relevance to that question. This might shape beliefs, political platforms, issues, stance, etc.
I absolutely 100% FAIL to see how the color of someone's skin will do that. How does the color of his skin relate to his prospects as the leader of this nation?
Who we are shapes what we believe and back. My experiences as a white woman within the context that is my life is vastly different from even my husband's experiences. I concede that this affects anyone, even political candidates.
I woudn't assume anything about a candidate based on skin color.
Let's skip over to a recent gubernatorial election in Texas. An independent with the crazy name of Kinky Friedman ran. A lot of liberals, independents, and so forth backed him. They thought he was different. I can see getting excited about such a person. Seems way outside the norm. But the silly hats, outspokeness, funky name, and so forth hid a conservative and racist person.
He wasn't any kind of social liberal that I could tell. His solution to the increase in crime since the Katrina evacuation was to hire and put on the streets an additional 10,000 policemen. That is his great solution? Increase police? How about fix the problem...you know, by preventing the crime in the first place? How about increase initiatives to move people back home, to a good home? How about open up additional housing so people are not stacked upon one another like flapjacks? How about ensure that kids are in school getting educations, and people are employed, and that both groups have transportaion to both? How about a community awareness program to help ease tensions?
You know what? There was a candidate like that. Except, he was a plain little white guy who wore suits and was on the ticket as a Democrat.
All I'm saying is: you can't judge a book by its cover.
So if you can't judge or call by looks, then what?
What is relevant when it comes to exploring who can lead the US (or any other branch of government)?
I thought for sure the "black" thing would die out and we could start talking about, you know, actual relevant issues such as experience, education, current and past stances on issues, goals, and so forth.
But, no. The media is like a dog with a bone.
We're still talking about Obama's skin tone. And Hillary's vahjayjay.
The black man. The woman. The black man versus the woman.
Maybe it's just where I live. But once again, today, the talk show radio host asked callers to call in and discuss, "Can America get past color and elect a black man?"
It seems like a good intellectual exercise. Racism has been ghastly here, and it's still (sadly) alive and kicking. Perhaps if we can talk it through, you know, we can get people over it. That sort of thing.
I think when it comes up, we should shame it, "How is that even remotely relevant? Eh? Maybe if you talked more about his skills and qualifications people would know enough about the actual candidate and could decide about something other than his skin color."
The truth is, I can find plenty out there about the candidate. If I look.
However, pop culture seems fixated on color. And that's what worries me. That's the insidious message. The thing that surrounds us at all times, invading our thoughts to some degree, whether we welcome or shun it. It affects us, it does.
Let. It. Go.
The color is not really relevant. It just isn't. Not even as a discussion, an intellectual exercise. This is because whatever he is, wherever he is from, whatever he believes, whatever experiences have shaped him are in him, out there. You can figure out what you need to know from his campaign, voting record, and past experience.
His color isn't going to do that for you.
Here's the bottom line
You either like him as a candidate and believe he'd make a potentially good leader--- based his position on issues, his experience, and so forth---or you don't.
And while we are on the topic (in a weird way...you'd have to follow my train of thought and really, don't try...just trust me): Way to go, Wimbledon! Thanks for making the women's prize the same amount as the men's prize! It might be two less sets, but women in tennis are quite marketable. Wimbledon women get equal prize money
(P.S. Once again, I've broken through my "let a post ride a day or so" preference. So...there's a Chandra Wilson post below that hopefully you don't miss, and also a Momming post below that. I'm cranking out a post a day just now for some inexplicable reason. Oh, I'm all het up I guess.)
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Tags: Barack Obama,race and color in the presidential bid,Wimbledone offers equal prize money to women