Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hutchinson's Support of Ferraro's Statement Courageous - and Right

Earl Ofari Hutchinson's recent piece, "Don't Fire Geraldine Ferraro, Pin a Merit Badge on Her for Having the Guts to Tell the Truth" in The Huffington Post, regarding her now-fateful comments about the Obama run for the White House, stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy in which I felt I had to have my say. Here are my comments: "Earl, kudos man for saying - out loud - what many others have definitely been thinking, Hats off for your courage in telling the truth all around. Edwards was my original candidate because, out of the gate, he spoke directly to all those elephants ganged up in our respective corners. It was a refreshing change. When his (Sen. Obama's) campaign headed to my home state of SC, I'd already spoken to family there and they were awash in the Kool Aid as I’d anticipated. And you know what? I even understand why. When I asked, "What exactly do you expect he will do for you there? I got no concrete answers. Many Black’s, 30 - 50+ years old, who grew up there still remember the long history of Jim Crow and James Crow Esq. in their lives. But more importantly, they understand it really hasn’t changed that much regarding the balance of power. It has informed who we've all become, white and Black. The chance at having a Black president is not only vindicating, it offers, in their minds, an opportunity to change (there’s that word!) the dynamics of power - but that's not ever going to be said out loud in “mixed company.” That being said however, all is not lost when it comes to building cross-cultural relationships or reconstructing the face of this country. But that won't happen without serious, open dialogue about race, something neither Blacks nor whites seem really ready to have -out loud. Sen. Clinton's comments on Dr. King and LBJ we're true, but that rains on the momentum parade if the statement is considered for accuracy. Here, Joe Califano, President Lyndon Johnson's special assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969 gives an account of what happened - he was there: "It Took a Partnership." I understood the "fairytale" comment from former Pres. Clinton to mean, Sen. Obama’s comparison of speaking out against the war versus Sen. Clinton‘s voting for it, was a fairytale given that once in the Senate, his votes mirrored hers. He, in my opinion, wanted the senator to drop the "fairytale" and tell the people the whole truth – me too. I'd have respected him immensely for that. Since he wasn't yet in the Senate for the vote, with no access to the erroneous information to which Congress was privy, making a comparison at all was like comparing apples and oranges. But to then vote in tandem with her on all war issues, once elected to Congress, makes what he’s telling the American people very disingenuous. And I don’t respect him at all for that. Here's a very long, yet interesting article written by Sean Wilentz, entitled "Race Man." It further illustrates how racism has been employed by the Obama campaign to paint Sen. Clinton with that ugly brush. And before anybody jumps on me, I know he's a Clinton supporter, but does that make his points any less true? I’ve had several conversations with Black and white friends and family of mine regarding the “white guilt” thing long before you wrote this piece. Some agree it exists, some don’t. Some say there are whites who feel electing Sen. Obama would finally put to rest the idea that America is racist. To them, I’ve said, “Bad Reason.” That’s just more prettying up a longstanding problem with no real move toward facing and fixing the truth AND it opens the floodgates for some whites who are racist to say, “See, we’re not racist, we elected a Black president” - and then continue to support all of the institutional racism entrenched in our society. Some say, it is time for a Black president. To them, I’ve said, “Thank you Miss Ann for finally deciding it’s time.” When pressed, they say that’s not what they meant and I know it isn’t, just had to let them know what that sounded like without them further supporting their point. They just think that throne is, and always should have been, open to all and feel for the first time, there are others who agree. As for Ms. Ferraro’s statement, I’m not all up in arms. As a woman, I totally agree with her. Men have historically and consistently found ways to minimize and marginalize the role of women in this country if we’re honest. Blacks got the right to vote long before women did! I believe that’s where she was trying to go with the statement."

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