Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I remember seeing Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, and thinking,

"Of course he's the President. He's pretty much the most famous person in the movie. Who else would be in the White House? Bill Pullman? Oh." I also thought he should have been nicer to Téa Leoni. She was just doing her job. How was she supposed to know that E. L. E. was not some top official's mistress named Ellie, but instead an Extinction Level Event?

This late-90s flashback was inspired by the following article:

Fear of a Black President, by Seth Grahame-Smith, The Huffington Post via Stuff White People Do.

. . . I'm a liberal, college-educated white guy. I think gays should be allowed to marry, I think women deserve equal pay for equal work, and I firmly believe that the more ethnically diverse America becomes, the more perfect and lasting our Union will be.

What do you want, a cookie?

But there's something about the idea of a black president that scares the shit out of me.

Until now, the notion of a black chief executive has belonged exclusively to Hollywood. I remember seeing Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, and thinking what a cool, novel choice it was to cast a black man as the president of the United States. Cool, because it hit my progressive sweet spot. "Yes! That's the way the world should work!" Novel, because the idea seemed impossible. And that was scarcely ten years ago . . .

It didn't strike me as novel at all because it was Morgan Freeman. He drove Miss Daisy and battled both a monkey virus and hard rain. He later went on to play God. Twice.

Mr. Grahame-Smith continues, emphases mine:

. . . But the idea is very real now. A black man may well become the leader of the free world. And even for someone who fancies himself a progressive, that's forced me to take a long, hard look at what that would really mean to my white mind. To identify that tiny, obscure part of me that's suddenly afraid, and find out what its problem is.

Here's what I found.

It's been easy believing in equality, because part of me -- the part that's suddenly afraid -- didn't really think we'd ever achieve it.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt secure as a white person. Secure in the unspoken belief that no matter how much social progress we made in America -- no matter how many blacks and Latinos graduated Magna Cum Laude or how many trophies Tiger won -- that we'd always be the ruling class from sea to shining sea.


That belief was so ingrained in my DNA [In your DNA? Really?] that nothing could shake it loose. Not the first billionaires of color, not the surging growth of the Latino population, not the Congressional Black Caucus...not even Oprah.

For though my better angels usually won the day, and though I was happy with the strides America was making, I was also -- deep down in that DNA -- gratified by the knowledge that mine was still the easiest color in America to be.

But a black president? That's different.

A black president means anything is possible. It means that that last little parcel of earth -- which for 232 years has been solely inhabited by white men -- is now open to people of all colors. That may seem insignificant. After all, there are black CEOs, black movie stars, black Senators...but the "highest office in the land" is just that . . .

Mr. Grahame-Smith was then shocked (shocked!) that people read this and concluded that he was "either an idiot or a racist." Well, dude, it's one thing to believe that being white is the easiest color to be in the United States of America. It's a whole other thing to believe 1) that white supremacy would and should continue forever; 2) that electing Senator Obama as President would end white supremacy; and 3) that the end of white supremacy would be a detrimental event because "a black president somehow takes ... white folks down a notch."

There's more!

. . . Some of these hypothetical people are simply racists. People who've let that fear consume them, and who would never vote for a black candidate no matter what. Others [others?] are like me -- whites who embrace equality, and who've loved people of all colors with all their hearts, but who (somewhere deep down in that DNA) are afraid of what this brave new world will look like. Of what their place in it will -- or won't -- be . . .

Okay, bucko. If you actually embraced equality and "loved people of all colors", you wouldn't be worried that the darkies are taking over and kicking you out of your assumed place. You would see a black President as more representation of more people in our flawed governmental system. Just because you call yourself a "liberal" doesn't mean you are one. If your readers are calling you a racist idiot, I suggest you take some time to figure out whether their claims are valid and why.

Because Voting for Barack Obama + Having black friends I'm not a racist!



mouse said...

Until he got to the part where he became defensive, I was thinking this was rather witty satire.

Now I'm just depressed.

Bianca Reagan said...

Welcome, mouse! Some people, like that guy, need help. :|

Tobes said...

WHO WOULD BE DUMB ENOUGH TO WRITE THIS? I understand people have f-ed up racist thoughts but why you would choose to throw them out there and then become confused when peopel call you a racist.... *head banging on desk*

I love the last line

Voting for obama + having black friends DOES NOT equal 'not racist'

Ain't that the truth.