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Sharpton: Blackness and Fighting

sharpton.jpgAlthough I disagree with Shelby Steele’s thesis on Obama, he was right about one thing: so-called black authenticity in politics is largely intertwined with being angry and confrontational. Al Sharpton made this point plain as day in the recent New York Magazine piece.

In his book, Steele argued that black leaders either conform to bargainer or challenger identities. Bargainers give whites the benefit of the doubt with regard to racism and challengers constantly rub racism in the faces of whites. Steele asserts that Obama is a bargainer, a claim which I think is entirely off the mark (where I discuss here ). But Sharpton demonstrates that Steele is on the money about the challenger concept being the dominant identity of black politics. From the New York Magazine article:

Until recently, Sharpton’s relationship with Obama has been more aloof. Sharpton has also been underwhelmed by Obama’s campaign. “He never came off as a fighter,” he says, a strategy that he thinks has hurt Obama with a key demographic: black women. “Black women like a fighter. Even if you’re fighting a fight that is not my fight, I will believe that you might fight my fight. And to come off as ‘I’m all right with everybody’ doesn’t give people who want a fight a comfort level. I want somebody who’s at least a little upset with somebody, because I’m mad as hell. If you’re not mad, how do I get passionate about you?”

Sharpton thinks Obama should take more cues from his wife, Michelle. He still thinks about the time he bumped into her at a recent Chicago fund-raiser. He claims the conversation went like this.

“How you doing, Mrs. Obama?”

She’s tall, and looked down at him. “I’d do a lot better if we had your endorsement.”

Sharpton tried to play dumb. “What do you mean?”

“We need your endorsement. I’m just telling you straight out: We need your endorsement. What are you going to do?”

Sharpton didn’t know what to say. “I’m like, ‘Uh, well, duh.’ I mean, she was like a sister back in Brownsville, where I grew up!”

Could he have played the tune of the angry black women stereotype any clearer? Did he not represent the angry black man stereotype perfectly? Could he be any more wrong?

Sharpton’s premise is that being a fighter and projecting anger go hand in hand. But who was a greater fighter for justice than Martin Luther King? Was he angry? Of course. Was that central to his message? Absolutely not. In fact, he fought his fight embracing a principle that is in opposition to this sentiment. Al, more than anyone, should get this.

I don’t care about Sharpton slighting Obama. That’s politics and I’m not here to defend Obama. But I do care about Sharpton (and the media) appointing himself the arbiter of black authenticity. To claim that he is not impressed by Obama because he doesn’t seem angry enough and implying that he is not black enough because of it, is just plain ridiculous. And I, for one, am tiring of him speaking for all of us.

**Hat tip to Baratunde Thurston of Jack & Jill Politics, Carmen Dixon of All About Race, and Desmond Burton of Afronerd from Wednesday’s Bloggers’ Roundtable on NPR**

Nappy Holidays

afro_santa.jpgWishing everyone the best for the holiday season–whatever you celebrate; whatever you believe. It’s a time for reflection, introspection, and connection.

I felt like Jesse writing that…

Don’t forget that The Great Debaters comes tomorrow–Christmas day. Could make for a nice Christmas evening outing. I’ll be checking it out then along with about half of the  black community.

Speaking of which,  stay tuned for a piece I wrote related to the film to appear in the Philly Inquirer on January 1.  I’ll post it here at that time.

O.J. Again?

obamaedwards.jpgLast week in Iowa, John Edwards fielded a question from the audience regarding what he would do about the possibility of “payback” from the black community towards whites if Obama were elected. Referencing the O.J. case as an example, he said:

“How are you going to get that brought out in your campaign? Will the same thing happen? If he should become elected, you think Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey are going to let him forget about that and their obligation?” the man said, not identifying who he meant by “he” and “him.” [Source: MSNBC] Continue reading ‘O.J. Again?’

Blood Money: Criminals Gone Wild

cgw.jpgI was made aware of this video a couple of months ago but resisted writing on it since I did not want to give it any more air play than it was receiving at the time. But now that the film is out and is all over the blogosphere and newspapers, I don’t think my little blog can do anything to add to the hype. So my 2 cents on this:

A DVD purporting to show real footage of violent crimes including shootings, carjackings and sexual assault has the Internet buzzing, police investigating and critics outraged at reality filmmaking gone wild. Continue reading ‘Blood Money: Criminals Gone Wild’

Tech Check: High School Graduation Rate

This one’s strictly for the nerds [my hand raised].

I promise to only hit you with these more technical “checkups” (what I’ll be labeling as tech checks from here on) every couple of months or so. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself. Plus, just maybe, some of you (okay, maybe one or two) are interested in a brief breakdown of the debate regarding the dropout/graduation rate for minorities.

So what is it? 50% or 75%? Probably the most popular view is that 50% of blacks/Latinos graduate from high school but there is a sizable contingent who argue that the graduation rate is 75%. A pretty significant difference. What gives? Continue reading ‘Tech Check: High School Graduation Rate’

What Was He Thinking/Drinking?

andrew-young.jpgCivil rights activist. Former congressman and mayor of Atlanta. First African American UN Ambassador.

Yep, all titles held by Andrew Young; the same man who made the off-the-wall remarks during this interview. I know he was “just clowning,” during part of the interview–but in a public forum? You have to wonder what he was thinking. Or drinking.

Let’s break down his main points: Continue reading ‘What Was He Thinking/Drinking?’