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November 27, 2005

How Hard Can It Be?

All you are ever told in this country about being black is that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be. Now, in order to survive this, you have to really dig down into yourself and re-create yourself, really, according to no image which yet exists in America. You have to impose, in fact - this may sound very strange - you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you
--James Baldwin.

Jay Nordlinger asked Michael Steele of Maryland some pointed questions about race in political campaigns:

Anyway, I asked Mike Steele, "Do you have your chin strap buckled?" He answered, "Oh, I've got mine buckled. The question is, do they have theirs buckled, because they've never run across a Republican like me. I learned the game from them. I've watched them for years. And they'd better be buckled up, because I'm ready to go."

What's harder? Being black or being a black Republican? Neither. I said as much in BYO Blackness.

When I was a junior in college, one of my roommates, Bernard was failing Optics. He took it hard. So my other roommate, Darius, said this isn't hard work. Shoveling asphalt in 100 degree heat is hard work. But let's be clear aobut something here in America. Being black is existentially hard work, until you lick the problem. The answers are out there and some people never find them, just like some people bounce from Yoga to Born Again Christianity to Wicca in search of their spiritual home. I can't say that there's nothing to it. But dammit by the time you grow up, and people are supposed to grow up, you ought to have an answer that works for you that can't be undermined my criticism. Being black is hard work for people who can't decide if Tupac is a role model. Being black is hard work for people who aren't sure whether they are really black or not. But if you're one of those people, you really can't represent blackness can you?

This is why I have a hard time with the argument that it's hard work to be a black X because nobody understands black Xs. So what? A billion Chinese don't understand a word I say, but I don't lose any sleep about it. The world doesn't owe anybody an understanding, or even a hearing. Stand up and say what you have to say. Fight for what you believe in. It ain't hard to be yourself, that is if you have a self. If you don't have a self, well then you don't count anyway - not even to your 'self'.

We in the Old School are not losing any sleep over people who find existence tough. It's tough all over.

Posted by mbowen at November 27, 2005 04:19 PM

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Danish proverb: "It's not about the cards you're dealt, it's about how you play your hand."

Posted by: Scott Ferguson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2005 05:24 PM

Maybe you're right -- maybe it's now In to be a Black Republican.

Jay Nordlinger quotes Michael Steele as saying he has the skin of an elephant. Translation: He's ready for the heat. Politics have gotten to the point where it does take thick skin to be a black republican -- but only when the other side chooses to play the race card. That card is now becoming harder to play without rebounding. Hopefully, he will feel only light warming.

Jay mentions Condi Rice; I can't understand how national newspapers could have published cartoons by Berkeley Breathed, Pierre Trudeau, and Aaron McGruder with their oreo lampoons. It's gotta be some sort of transitive "My Black Friend Gave Me This Idea, So It Isn't Racist" thing; in the case of McGruder, well, the transitivity is only one term long. The result: in several 'Net straw polls, Condi is outdrawing the "real" candidates including frontrunner Giuliani by 2-1.

I'd vote for her in an instant; I have trouble seeing Giuliani as a Republican.

You say in your previous article that "A man with dignity doesn't have to join the club. His membership dignifies the club." I submit to you that to be elected you do have to join the club, in the sense that you must convince people that their needs are your needs. That's one reason why the Democrats, including white ones, have been so successful with the Black vote -- they have delivered pork to the community in ways that Republicans, bound by a party ethos that largely denies that racial and ethnic divisions must be addressed by government largess, cannot.

Posted by: UncleSmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2005 11:19 PM

but only when the other side chooses to play the race card.

Saying Blacks are stuck on a plantation ain't the race card?

Saying Blacks are being led by slave masters or that Blacks are Democrat house slaves ain't the race card?

Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2005 04:47 AM

OH, and whining about how badly Blacks treat Black Republicans ain't the race card, although Black Dems have called other Black Dems sellouts and such?

Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2005 04:48 AM

Ed I think Americans just don't know how to talk about race. Furthermore they don't even know the aim of talking about race. So in our politics, everything is a race card - it's the rule rather than the exception.

In the end, you're left with Republicans and Democrats.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2005 07:50 AM

Mike, you're right. I'm just tired of the whining.

Public Black conservatives/Reublicans are calling a majority of Blacks victimologists and such, yet wearing the victim cloak.

Public Black Dems/libs point out the weakness of the Dem party, yet don't play the politics needed to force the issue. They would rather stance and jive vs. get something done.


Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2005 07:56 PM