Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Homophobia irks me. Being gay and being born and raised in the Deep South, there’s a deep divide over how people think, based on what they’re taught, and what they’ve actually experienced. I can assure you my extended family, who despite my pleasure, occasionally use the N-word, and repulse from news about “the gays,” continue to do so because they don’t have friends or acquaintances who are African-American, or who are LGBT, or Jewish… or Muslim… pretty much anything not really shouting out its existence in Dixie… and don’t fundamentally understand why their views are so offensive to me.

Now, I can’t blame my 88 year-old grandmother for her archaic use of language. She’s of a different generation that I am, and all I can do is gently educate her about how the world actually works. There are, in fact, gay people in America, and they tie their shoes just like you do. And that you ABSOLUTELY do not use slurs or slanders, ever. I only this week managed to get her to remove her lawn jockey from her front yard, and that thing has made me queasy since I realized what it stood for. When I was 12.

My uncle, who I wouldn’t give two cents for when it came to voting for a Democrat in the first place, and I’m sure has a USB cord attached from Fox News to his brain, has twice tried to educate me on Barack Obama. That Obama is a Muslim, that he’s a closet terrorist. He’s constantly sending out emails about Barack Obama and his craziness. I’ve just started forwarding him back snopes.com articles debunking urban legends, or direct material from all kinds of sources. When a cousin asked who I was voting for, I knew where the conversation was leading. I said, “Obama,” and looked upon his astonishment. “Why?” he asked in a condescending way. “Because I believe in the Constitution. Because I believe we need a direct change from the policy of Dubya. Because I don’t promote the politics of hate and exclusion.”

I walked out of the room, not even wanting to engage the idiot in any type of educational exercise, only because I know he is an avid hunter, was wearing camo at the time, and was probably locked and loaded from the oversized gas-guzzling SUV he drove in on… (on Father’s Day. Not gay-chic.) Sure enough, within 10 seconds, I hear n-word this, muslim that.

My point is… desensitize people. I prolly should have had a sit down, and maybe that will come one day. But still, it irks me.

Advertisements

AMERICAblog:

OR: The Chamber of Commerce (yep, you read that right) released a poll showing Gordon Smith barely squeaking by Jeff Merkley 38-34.

AK: The good folks at MyDD continue their series profiling the MyDD Road to 60 list.

CO: Remember this ad from the DSCC? Well, turns out it was right on – tonight Schaffer’s benefiting from a big fundraiser sponsored by the Ukrainian-Americans for Bob Schaffer 2008.

NC: Shock! Apparently being a big-name Republican isn’t such an asset when everyone hates Republicans.

TX: Rick Noriega has a great post on the HuffPo talking about his two weeks training soldiers.

GA (1 and 2): Jim Martin launches his first ad of the cycle while Kos talks about his chances in the Hill.

NJ: Lautenberg is up 45-28 on Dick Zimmer.

New York Times: Will Americans vote for a black president? If the notorious historian William Estabrook Chancellor was right, we already did. In the early 1920s, Chancellor helped assemble a controversial biographical portrait accusing President Warren Harding of covering up his family’s “colored” past. According to the family tree Chancellor created, Harding was actually the great-grandson of a black woman. Under the one-drop rule of American race relations, Chancellor claimed, the country had inadvertently elected its “first Negro president.”

In today’s presidential landscape, many Americans view the prospect of a black man in the Oval Office as a sign of progress — evidence of a “postracial” national consciousness. In the white-supremacist heyday of the 1920s (the Ku Klux Klan had a major revival during the Harding years), the taint of “Negro blood” was political death. The Harding forces hit back hard against Chancellor, driving him out of his job and destroying all but a handful of published copies of his book.

In the decades since, many biographers have dismissed the rumors of Harding’s mixed-race family as little more than a political scandal and Chancellor himself as a Democratic mudslinger and racist ideologue. But as with the long-denied and now all-but-proved allegations of Thomas Jefferson’s affair with his slave Sally Hemings, there is reason to question the denials. From the perspective of 2008, when interracial sex is seen as a historical fact of life instead of an abomination, the circumstantial case for Harding’s mixed-race ancestry is intriguing though not definitive.

To anyone who tracks it down today, Chancellor’s book comes across as a laughable partisan screed, an amalgam of bizarre racial theories, outlandish stereotypes and cheap political insults. But it also contains a remarkable trove of social knowledge — the kind of community gossip and oral tradition that rarely appears in official records but often provides clues to richer truths. When he toured Ohio in 1920, Chancellor claimed to find dozens of acquaintances and neighbors willing to swear that the Hardings had been considered black for generations. Among the persuaded, according to rumor, was Harding’s father-in-law, Amos Kling, one of the richest men in Harding’s adopted hometown of Marion. When Harding married his daughter, Florence, in 1891, Kling supposedly denounced her for polluting the family line.

There were rumors of other family scandals as well: the 1849 case in which “one David Butler killed Amos Smith” after Smith claimed that Butler’s wife, a Harding, was black; the suggestion that Harding’s father’s second wife divorced him because he was too much Negro “for her to endure.” In Chancellor’s book, such stories are relayed with a bitter, racist glee — ample reason not to accept them out of hand. But if none of this had any resemblance to the truth, how did all of these rumors get started?

In 1968, the Harding biographer Francis Russell offered an explanation: Harding’s great-great-grandfather Amos told his descendants that he once caught a man killing his neighbor’s apple trees and that the man started the rumor in retaliation — a rather weak story that Russell declined to endorse and that did not silence the mixed-blood rumors. Well into the 1930s, African-Americans claiming a family link continued to pop up in the press. (One decidedly dark-skinned Oliver Harding, supposedly the president’s great-uncle, appeared in Abbott’s Monthly, a black-owned Chicago magazine, in 1932.) As recently as 2005, a Michigan schoolteacher named Marsha Stewart issued her own claim to Harding ancestry. “While growing up,” she wrote, “we were never allowed to talk about the relationship to a U.S. president outside family gatherings because we were ‘colored’ and Warren was ‘passing.’ ”

Genetic testing and genealogical research may one day prove the truth or falsity of such claims. In the meantime, as the campaign season plunges us headlong into a “national conversation” about race, it’s worth thinking about why that truth has been so hard to come by for so long — about what makes it into our official history and what we choose to excise along the way.

Harding’s hometown, Marion, Ohio, provides a case in point. The town gained national fame in 1920 as the site of Harding’s “front-porch campaign”; for weeks, he delivered stump speeches from his well-tended home. Far less well known, as the historian Phillip Payne has noted, is what happened the year before, when a mob of armed white Marion residents drove more than 200 black families out of town, one of a wave of postwar race riots that served to segregate the industrialized north.

As he campaigns to become the nation’s first (openly) black president, Barack Obama likes to say that we’ve begun to put that divisive history behind us. The truth may be that we don’t yet know the half of it.

The American media has pained me during this election cycle, and even more so recently. They tip-toe and sidestep in many ways the outright racism has elected primary voting, particularly in the Appalachia. Looking at county-by-county votes, Clinton has won by the largest margins in Appalachia, stretching from northeast Mississippi, through north Alabama, and portions of Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Al-Jazeera, however has taken on the subject of Race and how its affected the election. Its something the American mainstream media simply doesn’t have the balls to do.