The Crooked Two-Way Street

Posted: August 28, 2008 in Commentary, Politics

Senator and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama made history last night for being the first Black man to be nominated by a major political party to serve as their representative in their quest for the White House. Of course we all knew that despite all the kicking and screaming of the Clinton camp that the freight train of history could not be stopped. I’m just glad that I am alive to witness such an event–an event that seemed like a fairy tale to my grandparents and parents who were born and raised in the Jim Crow south. What may not seem like a big deal to my two children who are under the age of 10 is a huge deal to many of us who thought that it could never happen.

In my lifetime, I have also witnessed other great milestones for Blacks in Federal government. In 2001 Condoleezza Rice became the first Black American to be appointed to the post of National Security Adviser to the President. In the same year, Colin Powell was the first Black American to be appointed as Secretary of State. While some folks will immediately point out that the role of president is much higher that these two positions, the fact remains that both Rice and Powell reached milestones that only a decade or so ago were unimaginable.

Enter the crooked two-way street–

Another thing I witnessed was how these two individuals were consistently flambeyed, barbecued and ridiculed by both the media and armchair critics not so much on policy issues, but simply over the fact that they as Black individuals would work under a Republican. I saw how several Whites in the media as well as the many online would oftentimes characterize them as house niggas or field hands with little or no response from much of the Black community. As far as Clarence Thomas goes, he was even characterized as a lawn jockey in front of the Black owned, now defunct Emerge magazine.

I just shook my head this morning as calls from all over the net proclaim that despite your political persuasion, this is a moment in history for all of us to celebrate. Too bad Powell and Rice were not afforded the same type of courtesy at ANY point in their careers when targeted by Whites in the press who had no problem referring to them as nothing more than house niggas for Bush.

The most interesting thing about all of this? If a person who is not a supporter of Obama comes out and heaps out well-deserved praise on the Senator, that person is considered courageous. If too much praise was given to the likes of Powell, Rice or even Thomas, that person was considered a sell-out.

Over the next few days you are going to hear from some of the most staunchest critics of America begin to acknowledge the fact that as a nation we have come a very long way as it relates to race relations. You’ll also hear about how the proverbial glass ceiling has been shattered, thanks to Obama. But what happens if he doesn’t win? Does America now revert back to the days of Jim Crow and White-only water fountains in the minds of these critics? Will the collective progress of Black folks in this country be forever frozen in time until an new Black candidate from the Democratic party emerges? Jacob Weisberg of Slate magazine has already concluded that racism would be the ONLY reason why Obama could lose.

So again, this is a day to be celebrated not just for Black Americans, but for all Americans. Despite our shortcomings as a nation, the dream does work. For Black folks, ANY milestone we reach should be celebrated and not conditional.

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Comments
  1. Wizz says:

    I will agree with you on Clearance Thomas… And to a lesser extent Condi Rice… But I think you are wrong about Colin Powell. I think Powell was, and still is, highly respected on both sides of the aisle. They were throwing his name around at one point for running for president too.. And I think he would have gotten a lot of black votes.. Of course not as many as Obama will get because the majority of black people are not Republican… He would have had a shot at mine and a lot of other educated black peoples votes. I lost a LOT of respect for him though when almost everything he said in front of the U.N. about Iraq turned out to be wrong. Because I trusted him and he had convinced me it was okay.

    For the most part though they didn’t get a lot of praise because the people that would lead that praise don’t agree with them on most of the issues… I do respect the hard work they had to put in to get to where they are though. And I agree that they probably should have gotten more respect and recognition from the black majority than they did. They did get some though (Rice and Powell anyway… Thomas not so much).

  2. Give it a rest says:

    Duane,

    You cant have it both ways and never can Coiln Powell, Condi Rice, and/or Clarence Thomas!

    You point of view regarding these individuals is rather old-school and a bit naive.

    As Secertary of State did Colin Powell accomplish any thing of merit?
    Colin Powells defining moment as SS was him playing America’s stool piegon in front of the UN, delivering a big fat bag of lies to the world. Yes, his legacy is serverly tranished and he will be remembered as Bush’s “boy” and as the Black SS that was NOT included in any of the major policy decisions of Bush’s administration. Powell allowed Bush to reduce him to nothing more than “black” window dressing and for that blacks see him as a “house nigga” (your words).
    In all honesty his performance as SS do live up to the sterotypical definition of House Nigga.

    As NSA and Sec State has Condi Rice done anything but play the role of the perfect “yes man” for GWB?
    Condi is precieved (right or wrong) as your atypical detacted Negro that most likely does not have a single “black american” friend. You never see her in the company of other blacks, do you?
    More to the point Condi is seen as the type of half-a$$ nigga that is all to happy to benefit over the fall of another black-person that has become fed up and no longer willing to play the “game” with a bunch of nasty lying good ole boys that really dont like Niggas to begin with. Condi watched GWB give Colin Powell a totally raw deal and perfectly happy to cover GWB’s a$$. Bush played Colin for a fool and Condi was happy to lick up the scrapes. See, she was willing to be that type of Negor that was just happy to have the job in title only. A happy “token” is a house nigga.

    Duane, do you think Condi or Coiln was an effective Sec of State?

    As a SCJ has Clarence Thomas done anything but stand around for group photo ops?
    CT has been a Associate Supreme Court Justice for what, 15 years now and as far a s I can tell he might have written all of one or two decisions if any at all! This is the guy that desents but does not write rebuttal decisions to back up his convictions. Once again we see another Negro that somehow has risen to the top in their field yet they appear to have no fire in their belly! In all fairness CT is just plain weak as a lawyer and judge and is not SC material, if folks want to believe that he is noting more than window dressing on the nations highest court he is doing a DAMN fine job of living up to the sterotype.

    Duane, do you believe C Thomas is a good Justice?

    Correct me if I am wrong but was not Colin Powell Black-America’s hero when he was the accomplished general and CJCOS in the early 1990s? Surrender your dignite to a “white social club” for the sake of a “promotion” , allow yourself to be made a fool of and blacks WILL call you an Uncle Tom and many other nasty things.

    Duane,
    Please name one black that has been appointed to a republican administration that actually had a real impact on the position they held?

  3. b.s. says:

    jeez… that seems inappropriately bitter.

  4. Duane says:

    You point of view regarding these individuals is rather old-school and a bit naive.

    And speaking of being “naive”…

    Instead of dealing with the fact that from day one, BEFORE THEY HAD THE CHANCE TO MAKE ANY IMPACT, they were already regarded has “house niggas”. Now all of a sudden you want to put on-the-job performance in the mix when you know good and will them being labeled and undefended by many Black folks from Whites had nothing to do with it. Deal with that first before making this into a resume issue.

    Wizz,

    I think I would say that to a lessor extent for Powell. You are right, he does have respect on both sides. But mind you, that only came from Democrats once word got out about some of his disagreements over the war were made public. Up to that point, he too was left undefended when he was being characterized as a field hand. Beyond that, I don’t think this detail is worth blowing up any further.

  5. Keith says:

    Duane,
    good post. I myself think it is great that a person who happens to be black has been nominated for president of the United States.

    I think it also great that a female was able to get as close to the nomination as Hillary Clinton did.

    I think both would be horrible for this nation, not because one is black and not because the other is female, but because of their over all world view.

    Seemingly from what I hear people say in interviews and what I read on the blogs, it is impossible for me as a white person to not be a racist because of the fact that I will not be voting for Obama.

    It seems to many (hopefuly the minority of persons) that a white person cannot vote against Obama based on the fact that they do not agree with him.

    Charles Barkley said that he wouldn’t vote for Obama if not for the fact that he happens to agree with Obama and thinks Obama will be a great president.

    However, he also thinks that as a white person I cannot enter the voting booth and not experiance trouble seeing Obama as a man rather than seeing him as a black man.

    Another person commenting asked Duane: >>Duane, do you believe C Thomas is a good Justice?<<

    Don’t know what Duane thinks, but I and a good many other persons see Clarence Thomas as being one of the most effective justices this nation has known.

    I believe the person commenting is angry and/or bitter and in that anger or bitterness does not want to acknowledge that Thomas has been effective.

    Granted Thomas may well not have been effective in the direction the person commenting would have liked but Thomas has done much more than “stand around for group photo ops.”

  6. DarkStar says:

    Duane, in the case of Powell, for the most part you are wrong although there were some vocal critics. In the case of Rice, she had more vocal critics but again, she faced no where near the criticism as Thomas.

    The AOL online poll, if you want to consider it, showed Powell and Rice to be respected.

  7. Duane says:

    in the case of Powell, for the most part you are wrong although there were some vocal critics

    If you feel like it, do a search under “uncle tom, Colin Powell” or “house nigga, Colin Powell” and you will get plenty of entries from both Blacks and Whites. And that’s just online talk.

    The AOL online poll, if you want to consider it, showed Powell and Rice to be respected.

    Ed, you are way better than this. Seems I remember you chastising someone else for referring to an online poll as a source of true accuracy.

  8. DarkStar says:

    If you feel like it, do a search under “uncle tom, Colin Powell” or “house nigga, Colin Powell” and you will get plenty of entries from both Blacks and Whites. And that’s just online talk.

    Note my comment on “vocal critics.”

    On the poll, notice I wrote “if you want to consider it.” I wrote that for a reason. I thought I had a link to a more traditional poll showing similar but I don’t.

    Let me hunt it down….

  9. DarkStar says:

    This isn’t the one, but it’s a start…

    CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP POLL
    August 4-6 [ 2000 ]

    Colin Powell’s Favorable Rating

    Whites 84%

    African-Americans 68

    Sampling error: +/-6% pts

  10. DarkStar says:

    Interesting….

    According to the AP-AOL Black Voices poll*, no single individual emerges as the clear leader of the African-American community today. Asked in an open-ended question who the most important black leader in America today, the four mentioned most often were Jesse Jackson (15%); Condoleezza Rice (11%); Colin Powell (8%); and Barack Obama (6%). Of note, two of these four leaders are Republicans, despite the fact that only 11% of blacks say they are Republicans or lean towards the Republican Party.

    *Methodology

    The Associated Press/AOL Black Voices Poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. Between January 9 and February 2, 2006, Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 600 black adults by telephone. The margin of sampling error for all black adults is +/- 4 percentage points; sampling error for subgroups may be higher.

    Poll size is still too small, but it’s not online as I was lead to believe.

  11. Duane says:

    Ed,

    That’s fine bruh. Like I said earlier, Wizz was correct to say what he did about Powell. Also, I don’t think its worth dragging on. Besides, I just got out of a HEATED argument (dear Jesus!) with two friends of mine tonight after telling them that I was not voting for Obama (I didn’t bash Obama not one bit. I just simply told them I wasn’t voting for him based on policy issues). You would have thought I was trying to rape one of their kids. I could barely get a word in edgewise. I think it was a combination from the high of the speech (which I thought was pretty good–in line with his other speeches) and the fact that they were drinking a lil’ bit (LOL!). What you hear from me on the site is the extent that I share my political views publicly. Beyond that, I just keep my political opinions to myself.

  12. Wizz says:

    Side note: Did anyone else see the HBO documentary.. “Black List Vol. 1″.. For it to be just a individual black people talking about their individual experiences, it was suprisingly very good… And Colin Powell’s part was excellent.. I think he even dropped a tear. Anyway.. Check it out if you have HBO.

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