Monday, May 21, 2007

Patronizing Black Americans

Which is more patronizing; Hillary Clinton's fake twang when speaking to black audiences or conservative's insisting blacks should be outraged at her obvious pandering?

I think both are equally patronizing.

Blacks are too often (as even I am even doing here) treated as though no black person exists as an independent, free thinker. 140+ years after their emancipation they are still slaves to black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and the democratic party for which they are all expected to vote come election time.

The recent Imus scandal involving Rutger's women's basketball team is another example. The team didn't have to respond to Imus' comments. They could have chosen to treat Imus as irrelevant (and irreverent) as he is, but under immense public pressure they chose to give Imus power over their own self respect, and forfeited control of their own self esteem to the media, of which Imus is still a member of.

Would Rutgers' officials and the team have decided otherwise if the media and black leaders didn't put them in the spotlight and they were allowed to celebrate as originally planned? To paraphrase an old saying, if Sharpton shouted in the woods and nobody listened to him would Imus be less insulting?

I don't think black Americans need to be told how to react, or how to think. Most of them have been reacting and thinking on their own for decades. Nor do I think they need to be spoken down to. Hillary's, the press', and democrats condescension and paternalism toward blacks tells me more about Hillary, the press, and democratic policies than it does their black audiences or wards.

Black Americans are not foreigners. Politicians don't have to speak more slowly, use smaller words, or feign dialects or accents to communicate with them.

For everyone congratulating Hillary for "relating to her audience," as Sharpton put it, how do they expect she'd address an assembly of rappers? How should anybody speak to rappers? Should candidates all fake a Southern Drawl when campaigning in Kentucky? Isn't that catering to a stereotype? Isn't that profiling? If it's not allowed in airports or on I-75 why would it be appropriate at a Baptist convention?

Ultimately, I'm confused about who's patronizing whom. If blacks aren't offended at Hillary's mocking can anyone be offended for them without also mocking blacks? Is everyone really that anxious to get on the I've-been-offended train that their willing to use affronts to others as their own boarding pass?

If the price to buy that ticket is to forfeit control of my self respect to others than I've no shame not affording it. Besides, I don't think that train is going anywhere I want to go.

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