I know I really should, but statements like this make it hard to take him seriously.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
I know I really should, but statements like this make it hard to take him seriously.
If there is one thing I'd like my white readers to get out of this blog, it is some sense of the great diversity of opinion and sensibility which exist within black America. One of the most poisonous ideas to emerge out of the cultural wars of the 80s and 90s was this portrait of black America as a hotbed of radical leftists who spend their days berating Jews, demanding reparations, and thinking of new and exciting ways to make white folks feel guilty. I think that image has come to dominate because so many public intellectuals working in the arena of race began to confuse the debates occurring in the sociology departments of elite campuses and in the salons of the Upper West Side, with the debates that rank and file black folks have amongst themselves. No disrespect, but New York City and the Ivy Leagues may be the most distortive influences on the picture of black life, short of BET.
I say that as an avowed liberal and lefty, who has his roots in the black nationalist communities. Obviously I'd love it if large swaths of black America were obsessed with social and racial justice, but take it from someone who spent many a day trying to make that a reality, it just isn't the case. This is important because a key measure of humanity is the right to be wrong, the right to be complicated, to be contradictory. Just as America can at once be the first enlightenment republic and still carry with it a long legacy of white supremacy, black people can be the greatest engine for social change in this country history, and still believe that gay marriage should be banned. I obviously have huge problems with the latter half of that equation, but once you see that, within a group, political views can diverge all kinds of ways, it becomes foolish to define a group strictly by those views.
This leads me to the latest backward attempt to analyze Barack Obama and race. I think the MSM, frankly, needs to just give up on this whole topic, their record is disastrous. First Obama wasn't black enough. Then he was so black that he couldn't win the nomination. Now the question is "How black is too black?" Lemme explain something to you, dog: I just watched a black man carry Iowa and Oregon and then carry roughly nine out of ten black voters. Don't give me that business about Appalachia. You know damn well if I had told you three years ago that a black man would do that you would have laughed at me. With that backdrop I've gotta say, I don't even know what the phrase "too black" means.
One thing I do know, the Times definition of blackness--"a sense of black grievance"--is a joke. And if it weren't Al Sharpton would have dominated the black vote. That sort of flat rendering of black America, keep up this false idea that the most unifying factor of black culture is the ability to make white people feel guilty. Look, I know this is tough to believe, but black people aren't nearly as obsessed with white people, as media would have you think. Fueling that notion is a cheap and easy way to fill some column inches, while not giving a flying fuck about stripping the humanity and complexity away from black folks. I should have known it was over when I saw the headline, but the dead giveway that I was in the midst of a half-hearted effort was here:
Mr. Obama’s campaign so de-emphasized race that for most of the 17-month nomination contest much of the news media became obsessed with the question of whether he was “black enough” to win black votes.
What a crock. Obama emphasized race about as much as most black people on the street emphasize race. What these intellectuals can't see is that the same issues that keep white folks up at night--the war, the economy, health care--are the same damn issues that keep black folks up at night. And I love the tautological bit about the news media obsessing over whether Obama is black enough. DUDE, YOU ARE THE NEWS MEDIA. You obsess over it because you're too lazy to ask the hard questions about Obama and race.
I love that the talking heads now think that they are the arbiters of what is and ain't black. These folks wouldn't be able to do the Electric Slide if you gave them a take-home DVD, can't pick Kenya Moore out of a lineup, ain't never set foot on the campus of an HBCU (don't even know what it stands for), and these cats are gonna tell us what's "too black" and what ain't. Come on man. Humor me a little, at least. Listen to some Isaac Hayes records. Then let's talk.
Commenter Herb offers a solid critique:
Yup, I don't believe in the "white people just don't get it" line of thinking. Half of what I know about black people I learned from white people. I'm talking about Peter Guralnick, Nicholas Lehmann, Kate Boo and Dan Baum. These are cats who treated black folks like actual human beings, who did not sit in apartments or in television studios pontificating and acting like they'd spent time learning the mores of black people, when, at best, all they'd done is read John Ridley's latest in Esquire. This ain't racial at all. I find Juan Williams about as ignorant about the current state of black folks as Pat Buchanan. I also think the author of this "What is too black" piece was black himself.
As for the point about culture, I don't believe in "racial" culture either. But much as Jews exist as a religious group and an ethnic group, blacks exist as a racial group (ugh, as much as race exists) but more importantly as an ethnic group. There is no universal white culture--but there is an Italian-American culture, a Jewish American culture, an Upper West Side culture, a white Southern culture, an Appalachian Scots-Irish culture etc. And all of those are tributaries feeding into the broader American culture. Black folks are the same way. The culture isn't race-based--anybody who spends some time studying, and is equipped with some measure of empathy, can get it. But my problem is people who don't want to put in that time, but then want to go out and make blanket statements about "What Black Is," if I may paraphrase Brother Jay.
It's like, am I not black because I don't sit around thinking about "black grievance"? If blackness is based on "black grievance," how did Barack grab 90 percent of the black vote when he spent most of his time talking about the collective needs of the country? Why is Bill Cosby one of the most popular figures, among black people, in this country? Why did Barack deploy Oprah to South Carolina? Are these people, now, not black?
There is great hypocrisy here: The same mofos who jump on the necks of urban youth for playing the "not black enough" game, will gladly turn the tables and pull the same shit on Barack Obama. If it's pathological for a sixth grader to tease another kid for being "too white," then its equally pathological to bloviate in the Times about whether Barack Obama is "too black."
Cool comment from Harry:
I can see how this is surprising if, as is the case for most Americans, somone is just getting to know Obama and isn't from his home base in the Midwest/Illinois (Land of Lincoln), where he won over (first) a racially integrated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago (Hyde Park) as a State Senator in '96, then won a U.S. Senate seat for Illinois in 2002, most of which outside of Chicago is rural and white, as are of course large parts of Chicago. Of course it helped that the Republican Party has collapsed in Illinois, the way it has nationally, and in 2002 Obama was up against a Fundamentalist wing-nut -- who was also black.
In the SuperTuesday Illinois primary, Obama swept the state outside of Chicago, and the majority of Democratic primary voters were women. Something similar played out throughout the Midwest in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota. The media has paid no attention to the history here: despite anti-black racism that has roots everywhere, these were all Northern Free states at the time of the Civil War, and had active lines of the Underground Railroad leading up to Canada. Appalachia and the South have different stories, and we've seen how that's affected the campaign.
If anything, more whites -- to the extent that that "white" is a static category of analysis itself (at different times it has not included Jews, Catholics, Italians, Poles, the poor, rural folks, etc.) -- should be surprised that so many blacks (another fluid category) voted for him. It was only relatively late in the game that so many left the Clinton camp. And Obama himself has taken conscious decisions to beef up his repertoire of conventionally black culture traits as he outlines himself in his writings.
America may not be post-racial, but it IS multi-racial, and so is Obama, and that's why he is such a beacon of hope to so many, especially the young, the urban, and the educated, and independent.
I'm a pretty big fan of Jon Chait, and in principle, I agree that Obama should embrace class-based Affirmative Action, but I find some of the reasoning behind this disturbing:
Third, the politics are phenomenal for him. He needs to try to regain his "post-racial image" that took such a beating in the primary. When you read interviews with whites who fear Obama, they often express a fear that Obama is only going to look out for his fellow African-Americans. What better way to show this isn't true?
But Chait doesn't ask why this is true. Maybe it's because I'm, you know, black, but there is nothing more irritating about the heat Affirmative Action generates, as compared to its actual effect on white people. From a black perspective, the greatest engine of our middle class are Historically Black Colleges and Universities which still generate half of all black college degrees in this country, 50 percent of all black school teachers, and 70 percent of all black doctors and physicians. This is why I've always been kind of "meh" about Affirmative Action myself. On the other hand, I'd love to see some stats on how many white folks will ever be affected by Affirmative Action in any way. I know that this is politics and Obama is a politician, but a tacit acceptance of irrational racial fear, is dangerous and short-sighted.
I have a radical theory: If you never address white paranoia, class-based Affirmative Action is doomed. What Chait isn't seeing (and I submit this with much respect, because I am a fan) is that racism poisons everything. The War on Poverty programs were also class-based, but that didn't stop white racists from demonizing these programs a handouts to Negroes. Welfare supported more white people than black, but that didn't stop people from turning poor black women into welfare queens. The theory of class-based Affirmative Action as "great politics" rest on a foundation which black folks have always found wanting--the ability of crucial swaths of white people to not cut off their nose to spite their face. But, in regards to race, this country entire history is based on white people cutting off their nose to spite their face.
As policy, class-based Affirmative Action is great. As politics it is a nasty short-cut which seeks to avoid a very difficult, and politically costly discussion: Of all the great forces affecting the daily lives of white people, why do so many believe that Affirmative Action is somehow crucial? Given this country history and treatment of black people why does AA bother so many whites? Is it because it's poorly constructed policy? Or is it something else. You know what I think kids.
MORE: Commenter Riise offers an interesting critique:
Paging Joan Walsh. Here is your "wail worth hearing.." This is nuts, and the fact that there are white Democrats defending this woman, or even acting like she has something to contribute to the conversation is disgusting. Check over at Larry Johnson's site and see how many people are defending this fool. Listen to her claim to be "the furthest thing from a racist" shortly after stating that "99 percent of the blacks don't know why they're voting. While your at it check out Will Bower claiming that Harriet meant nothing by her "inadequate black male" remark. I would love to the black Obama supporter who could go on TV and claim that Hillary was "an inadequate white woman" and 99 percent of white women who voted for her didn't know what they were doing. I don't want to hear anymore foolishness about how sexism is more acceptable than racism. The only people who believe that are idiots, who don't know what racism is to begin with, because they've never had to wrestle with it. This shit is just "White rights" dressed up as feminism. Get these mofos out the effing party. Send them to McCain. It's where they belong anyway.
dNa is going to be leaving us, which greatly saddens me. That said, the kid is going out on good note. Here is stepping on Juan Williams for one of the dumbest columns of this young century.
Who are these two dudes? Cam'Ron and Young Buck? WTF?
UPDATE: Also, I just don't care much for these arguments. This is reminiscent of the "Why are there no black people on Friends and Sienfeld debate?" If Negroes don't like being left out, they need to make their own films and television. Furthermore, I don't need to see a black person in every film/TV show I watch. I care about this mainly as a labor issue--I love Gabrielle Union and I think she should get more work. But we need to recognize that there aren't even enough roles for white women in Hollywood. If we don't like it, Negroes need to get some cash together and change. Otherwise stop complaining. Jesus, don't talk me to death. Get out there and do something.
So, some media updates on my new memoir, The Beautiful Struggle. First we have a conversation between me and Farai Chideya on NPR. Then we have a convo with me and my Pops on the book. And then we have a cover story on the book from Baltimore City Paper:
Like a young Rakim, Ta-Nehisi makes articulating the undefined world around him look effortless. Although he says, "Writing is a very physical process. It feels manual. I know it's not, but it feels like it."
In crafting his first book, he went back: "I took a rapper's approach." Struggle uses lyrics as chapter openers. "Fools think hip-hop is easy," Ta-Nehisi says, blasting the ignorance of detractor Wynton Marsalis. "Great MCs have to be careful with their words, you can only say so much within a bounded frame. I had a beat in my head, and I wanted the writing to be lyrical and rhythmic. I just couldn't come out and say stuff, or it would literally fall off beat."
Yeah, any dart I can throw at Wynton's unlettered fulminations on hip-hop, is a good dart. A review from Entertainment Weekly:
It once seemed like every male memoirist of color needed a CV featuring prison time and drug addiction. Ta-Nehisi Coates (a former TIME staffer) sidestepped both, but his The Beautiful Struggle is as gripping as Piri Thomas' classic Down These Mean Streets.
And one last review from my old home, Washinton City Paper:
As Coates negotiates his father’s ideological hangover and the ’80s crack epidemic, choosing dorm life over thug life in the ’90s, The Beautiful Struggle puts an edge on a familiar coming-of-age tale at least as old as The Catcher in the Rye. There's a difference, of course: King WASP Holden Caulfield could always enroll in another cushy private school or take refuge in the lush life on the Upper West Side, but Coates was writing for his life.
Lastly for those who haven't seen it, here's the book trailer:
...allow me to extend some:
1.) Brendan Koerner is one of my of best friends. We met over tacos many many moons ago in a greasy Salvadoran joint, at the bottom of Adams Morgan, and since then have had a hell of a time reflecting on everything from Moby Dick to the ultimate fate of Peyton Manning. More importantly, Brendan is a beautiful writer, and this month he's published a history of a forgotten slice of World War II. His book, Now The Hell Will Start chronicles the life of Herman Perry, a black GI who kills his superior officer and then flees into the bush to hide out with a bunch of head-hunters. Do yourself a favor--check out this beautiful profile by Brendan on blacks and Native Americans. And then go buy his book.
2.) And then do yourself another favor. Get familiar with Amanda Ripley. Over ten years ago, me and Ripley worked togethe at Washington City Paper. Ripley was amongst a group of writers who I just knew were ten times smarter than me, and destined to kinda be a big deal. And they kinda are. Anyway, to understand the job of a real writer, check out Amanda's assault on the cult of John McCain which she published back in 1999. And then check out her new book, The Unthinkable, a fascinating meditation on who survives disaster, who doesn't and why.
...she's "shocked" to discover she lives in a sexist world. Dig this from the WashPo's Clinton campaign obit:
In an interview with The Washington Post last month, Clinton described some of the media coverage of the race as "deeply offensive to millions of women" -- a remark that aides later said they worried came across as self-pitying, but that was sincerely felt.
"She started to see gender inequity in a more profound way than she ever has," one top adviser said.
In that way more than any other, the adviser said, the campaign was a "totally transformative experience" for Clinton. She concluded that "there is a lot more sexism than racism," the adviser said. It was a difficult sentiment to square with the results in the later states, as white men voted for Clinton in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and South Dakota. But it lingered.
The sexism/racism comment is hokum, and has been roundly dismissed as such, but there is something deeper here. Why the hell was Hillary Clinton, and many of her allies, "shocked" by the sexism she encountered? I've been wondering this for months. I mean think about: Nobody black is "shocked" that Clinton won West Virgina and Kentucky 2 to 1. Nobody black is "shocked" that there is a Curious George tee-shirt of Obama. Nobody black is shocked that a Kentucky Congressman called Barack Obama "boy." Black people can't afford to be shocked. If anything we're shocked Obama won Iowa, Oregon and Idaho. In other words, we're shocked that America is evidently less racist than we thought it was.
I think this reflects how gender interacts with privilege--and arguably white privilege. No black woman who has to walk down Lenox Ave. and endure the cat-calls, who has to deal with the latest ho-slapping Snoop single, who has to function in a culture where "pimp" is now a postive word, is "shocked" by sexism. Indeed, Essence magazine has been on this shit for years. In fact, I'd argue that no white woman who spends her days, say, as a waitress in a diner would be shocked. That is how you know Hillary is an elite--she has the right, indeed the privilege, to be shocked by sexism. If she's shocked by what she saw running for president, let me submit that a day as black woman, a Latina, or working white woman would send her into cardiac arrest. .
In this sense, race works completely differently than gender. Indeed, in some ways, racism troubles the black elite in ways that it never troubles the black poor whose major concerns are economic. You see whereas corporate women tend to live/eat/sleep with other corporate men, corporate Negroes don't eat/sleep/live with corporate whites. In other words, there is no natural relationship across race, like there is across gender. The result is that racism among the elite is an abstraction for whites, something that happens to that dude/chick who they nod at in the hall. But sexism is something that can happen to their wife/mother/daughter. The white male has a vested and immediate interest in at least a less sexist environment. Of course he can't always see things that way, and women in the corporate world have more than their share of horror stories. But privilege changes how things are seen.
(As an aside, think about Linda Hirshman and the whole "opt out" debate--an issue which, for a few months, consumed all the oxygen in the debate over gender. But "opting out" is discussion for approximately ten percent of the women in the country--you have to be relatively wealthy to even consider it. I guess it's a feminist debate, but it's kind of peculiar given that it's a not discussion that even applies to most women.)
I think this accounts for any "feminist rage" among white women. They really thought their white brothers, husbands, and fathers had evolved, and that now it was their time. But black folks had no such faith, and had Barack lost it would have simply confirmed what we thought we knew. I think if Barack wins, it will be very interesting to see how many white women writers deal with Michelle. Color, methinks, colors everything.
Commenter Consuela rightly points out that the whole Michelle Obama image thing has been percolating amongst black feminist bloggers for some time. To the extent that I hadn't seen it, it just shows that the kid needs to read more. Anyway, check it out folks.
Fascinating post over at TPM. A higher percentage of black Dems want Hillary on the ticket than white Dems. I'm just one black person. This is the sort of thing that makes it clear that I don't speak for black folks. That said, it also bears out what I was saying about this dumb idea that Hillary would have trouble with black folks in New York. All that said, I still think it's a bad idea.
Check it out. I had a very visceral reaction to a disturbing image over there. I thought about putting it up on the blog, but decided against it. I don't know how I feel about it yet. But feel free to discuss guys.
UPDATE: Sorry guys, I actually had some computer troubles this morning in the midst of writing this post. Here it is with the links and all.
Update #2: Now really fixt. Thanks Gully.
It's from Hilzoy, and I don't even want to screw it up with block-quotes. It's a fascinating meditation on Obama and race, from someone who "gets it." Back in 2002, I had this New Year's resolution that I'd stop making general disparaging remarks about white folks. This wasn't of the "kill the white man" variety, but more of the, "Man, white folks can be so arrogant" variety. New York had really exposed me to the diversity of the world. Nevertheless, you'd be shocked at how hard it is for a middle-class black person to be true to such a resolution. But I did pretty good, even if I'd let the occasional generality slip out.
Then came this campaign, and after that, came my heavy involvement in the blogging, and even the generalities I had left over became glaring to me. When you're black, because your people didn't implement Jim Crow, you feel a freedom to do that sort of thing. But what I've really learned from this campaign is that the generalizations are just wrong, and can't be justified away on some "noble savage" shit. And they aren't just wrong on a moral level, they are wrong factually. Anyway, there is this creeping thought in the back of the mind that no white person could truly understand what it's like on the other side. Maybe a lot still can't. But when I read a post like that, I understand that the gap is all about empathy and effort. If you assume a basic humanity about the next man/woman, and then put yourself where they are, the world gets a lot smaller. OK, enough sap. Back to that Elijah Muhammad/Yakub science tomorrow.
It ends like it begins. I just tried to read Joan Walsh's piece on Obama's need to reach out to women voters. I believe that, not because of Hillary, but because he should treat all members of the coalition like customers who could easily make another choice. Anyway I was humming along in the piece when I hit this disgusting bit:
We saw the face of the angry white female backlash against Obama over the weekend, and it was hard not to turn away. On Friday, Geraldine Ferraro complained in a Boston Globe Op-Ed that she's been demonized for saying that Obama's presidential run benefited from his being black, and called her treatment "reverse racism." On Saturday, Harriet Christian replaced Ferraro as the overwrought voice of white female resentment. There she was at the Democratic National Committee meeting, screaming at reporters that Democrats were about to nominate "an inadequate black male who would not have been running had it not been a white woman that was running for president."
Beyond Christian's deplorable reference to Obama as an "inadequate black male" was a wail worth hearing. She also said, "I'm proud to be an older American woman!" I can feel her pain. Reading the sexist attacks on Clinton and her white female supporters, as well as on female journalists and bloggers who've occasionally tried to defend her or critique Obama, has been, well, consciousness-raising. Prejudice against older women, apparently, is one of the last non-taboo biases. I've been stunned by the extent to which trashing Clinton supporters as washed up old white women is acceptable.
Once I heard Walsh invoking the words of two bigots to make her point, I checked out. Physician heal-thy-mutherfucking-self. Ferraro is the same woman who argued that "racial resentment" was OK. Walsh apparently thinks Harriet's description of Obama as an inadequate black male, "was a wail worth hearing." I'm physically sick reading that. I never much agreed with Walsh's take on the Clinton's, but for my money, she just fell into Pat Buchanan territory. Anyone who thinks there's something to take from someone who says it's fine to resent black people racially, who claims that there's something worth hearing in describing the first black man to ever win a major party's nomination as "an inadequate black male" is the moral equivalent of a racist to me.
I don't play these word games. I don't much care about what's in your heart. I don't make any distinction between people who think I'm less than, and the cowards who know the truth, but still run with bigoted fools anyway. There's nothing feminist about siding with worst impulses of white America. The fact is we're tied to each other. The same fuckers who've turned the incarceration of black men into a business, are the same fuckers who'd love nothing better than to drag women back into the dark ages.
I want to see Barack Obama out there courting the vote of all women. I want to see him talking specifically about what his plans are. But I've got no interest in seeing him court those who would use feminism, as a cover for their own blackaphoic views. Later for them. Let them vote McCain, and go join the party where bigotry is part of the platform. The rest of us have a country to save.
UPDATE: To be clear, Obama should compete for the votes of ALL women--older, younger, white, black, purple whatever. But I don't accept that people who refer to him as an "inadequate black male." or people who think "racial resentment" is acceptable, or people (read: Joan Walsh) who think there's some truth to be gleaned from those opinions are represenative of that older, white female bloc. It's not I think older white women shouldn't be courted by Obama--they most certainly should. It's that I don't accept Walsh\Ferraro\Christian as a rep for them, any more than I would want someone to accept Al Sharpton as a rep for me.
I saw that Walsh called Christian's remarks "deplorable" but she undercuts even that weak declaration by embracing the racist Ferraro as someone who has something to say to Obama. Please. Ferraro was part of the worst Democratic ticket in modern memory. She helped invent the Reagan Democrats. I didn't even know she was still involved in politics until she decided to reveal her inner James Eastland. The idea that she somehow reps for women is fucking laughable.
That said, anyone who'd be willing to put the health of women, the chance to expand childcare, the chance to revisit equal pay, on the line in the name of electing a dude who called his own wife a cunt, who laughed as one of his supporters referred to Hillary Clinton as a bitch, who would most assuredly appoint judges that would reverse Roe v Wade, is a joke. There ain't nothing feminist, or "empowering" about gambling on the future of our daughters. It's a ego and sore loser-ism writ large. If that's your angle, take a hike.
There is also an ugly subtext to that "unqualified" remark. Exactly how many terms in the Senate did John Edwards have? Was he also unqualified? Would we be hearing that label from Hillary-supporters if he'd won?
Heh, one last note on this dap thing. The most interesting, and quite common, response has been "well I'm white as hell and I do the fist-bump with my wife, so it can't be that black." To me that response says more about the speaker--and race in this country--than about any measure of "blackness." It has as its unspoken premise that black is something that's stagnant, mutually exclusive to itself, and incapable of existing alongside other qualities. As I've stated, several other cultural signifiers have become mainstream, but there isn't much debate over their origins. Only the artifacts of black ethnicity are asked to surrender themselves as the move into the wider world. This is tragedy of calling Barack "postracial" or "post-black" instead of calling him what he calls himself--a biracial black man. No one calls Joe Lieberman post-Jewish, or Mel Martinez post-Cuban American. What folks are getting is that blackness damn near is the cultural mainstream of this country. The fact that you're in Wisconsin somewhere performing an ritual that was perfected on the South Side of Chicago probably means that it's mainstream. But that doesn't mean it didn't come from the South Side. Both are true at the same time.
...but there's something about this I like:
Furthermore, during a Senate vote Wednesday, Obama dragged Lieberman by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber and engaged in what appeared to reporters in the gallery as an intense, three-minute conversation.
While it was unclear what the two were discussing, the body language suggested that Obama was trying to convince Lieberman of something and his stance appeared slightly intimidating.
Using forceful, but not angry, hand gestures, Obama literally backed up Lieberman against the wall, leaned in very close at times, and appeared to be trying to dominate the conversation, as the two talked over each other in a few instances.
Still, Obama and Lieberman seemed to be trying to keep the back-and-forth congenial as they both patted each other on the back during and after the exchange.
Afterwards, Obama smiled and pointed up at reporters peering over the edge of the press gallery for a better glimpse of their interaction.
I think it's the fact that he smiled and pointed up at the reporters.
Anytime Bob Johnson is your emissary, you're in trouble. The whole way this VP thing happening is pretty sloppy. I see a bunch of hald-assed yes-men, and surrogates, who know if Obama wins without Clinton they're on the outs, pressing this thing harder than she is. Man this is sketchy. Folks this is just too much drama. He needs to run away as fast he can.
John humorously notes that giving dap (sorry guys "fist-bump" is just dead wrong) is so widely practiced that even his thoroughly white lacrosse team did it. I don't doubt it a minute, but again that's the point. Just because many more people other than blacks are now giving dap, doesn't mean that it didn't start with black folks. Like I said, a lotta non-Mexicans eat enchiladas. That don't make enchiladas non-Mexican. Still, this whole thing has my head swimming now. It's quite possible that I have this backwards, I mean I first encountered the art of giving dap amongst black folks. But I also grew up de facto segregated--hell I first encountered french fries amongst black folks, so that isn't proof of authorship.
That said, the very fact that in
all the instances where whites have claimed giving dap is common involve athletics is telling. Black folks give each other dap in all
sorts of instances--not just competition. I may
give my man a "fist-bump" (arrrgggghh!!! it burns!!!) because my fingers are greasy, because I've got something in my hand, or just because I feel like it. In fact, one of the more awkward moments in black life occurs when two brothers greet each other and one isn't sure whether to use the open hand or the closed fist. You can end up with some pretty awkward exchanges--like shaking a dude's fist. Anyway, the place where "dap" is most likely to be transmitted to other ethnicities is in athletic competition. So the mere fact that many of the cats who are questioning its origins are citing their encounters with dap in competition kind of makes me think I'm right.
When I got my first job around white folks, in the mid-90s, I had to stop myself from shaking my co-worker's hands every time I saw him, as was normal among the brothers. This has changed over the years, I think, with black culture going mainstream. So when I was working at TIME, for instance, I had some white friends who I shook hands with every time I saw them, because they were acculturated. Others I didn't because they weren't. But I shook hands with every brother I saw, whenever I saw him for the first time during the day. And then maybe again during the course of conversation. And then maybe again when I left. It just depended.
For those of you saying that you'd have to be from Mars to have never seen someone giving dap, dig this quote John dug up from over at from Human Events:
Michelle is not as “refined” as Obama at hiding her TRUE feelings about America—etc. Her “Hezbollah” style fist-jabbing—mouth-twisted anti-American speeches is STRAIGHT from ISLAM!
Oh my white people, we have so very very far to go...
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Pardon my French
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…