Longtime Angry Black Readers know I am fond of Alan Rickman*. What you may or may not also know is that Margaret Cho is one of my role models – I want to be her if and when I grow up. When Zandar (@ZandarVTS on the Twitter Machine) tweeted to me that she had been on the Melissa Harris-Perry show…this morning? Yesterday morning? I don’t know. I run on asiangrrlMN time. OK, fine. Sunday morning for those of you not running on asiangrrlMN time.
Anyway, when Zandar tweeted me saying I would be sad I missed it, I immediately scrambled to MSNBC and found the clip. It started with Melissa, who, in and of herself is pretty damn amazing, talking about a YouTube thing of kids (I’m assuming mostly girls) posting vids asking if they are pretty or not. Margaret responded as to why this is not a good idea and how women are still being judged on looks alone. In a bit, Melissa brought on Jennifer Pozner, the founder of Women in Media and News. The three women started talking about, yes, women in media, news, and how women are constricted in general, whittled away into nothing, while men are allowed to expand.
At first, I didn’t want to believe that race was a large part of that equation and chalked a lot of it up to “bitterness” left over from the contentious primary fight with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and the others. But as his presidency progressed and more evidence continued to pile up, I, as a white liberal, began to see that the source of a lot of that disrespect and vitriol clearly was coming from an elitist and superior attitude, much of it rooted in race.
My first instinct whenever I come across something that is clearly over-the-top rhetoric is to attempt to find out the source of that vitriol. Strong opinions don’t usually materialize out of thin air, they come from somewhere and I like to find out where. Using the Google machine, I decided to go back and read some previous writing by Gene Lyons as it relates to race and particularly, President Obama. What I found was quite shocking, in my opinion. You decide for yourself.
On matters of race, I’ve learned as a white, 49 year old male to listen and defer to those who have a closer connection to the effects of racism. What the hell do I know about suffering from racism, other than what I can learn from those who have suffered through it. It’s impossible for me to completely understand what it is like without having experienced it. I’ve accepted that fact and when a person of color speaks about it, I listen and try to internalize it.
One person that I listen to very intently is Melissa Harris-Perry, a very wise and thoughtful person who always makes sense to me whenever I hear her speak or read her words.
Gather ’round, Angry Black Readers. There’s an elephant in the Democratic Party room, and no, I am not referring to a Republican spy, though I wish I were. I’m talking about racism and race and, yes, I know it’s an uncomfortable topic among us liberals. Racism in the GOP? We can talk about that freely because it’s so damn blatant and ugly. Plus, it’s them doing the racializing, so there’s none of our own skin in the game. We can judge from a distance and feel smugly superior because we are above chimp pics and questioning whether that Kenyan Islo-Fascist Mooooslim was born in America or not, despite all evidence that PBO was, indeed, born in the United States (Hawaii, is a state, despite what some rightwingers believe). Oh, yes, there is racism on the right, but we, we the members of the Democratic Party, we are post-racial and all that shit ‘coz we elected the black guy and watch Oprah and listen to Jay-Z. WE would never hunt at a place called Niggerhead* or carve a backwards B on our cheeks and say a black supporter of Obama did it. WE are above all that!
Yesterday, founder of Salon.com, David Talbot announced that, after six years, he would be returning as CEO of the online magazine:
“In these increasingly hard times, Salon is dedicating itself to an American revival. Our editorial mission will become more explicitly and aggressively populist. We will be publishing more investigative pieces, exposing the shadow dance of power. And both Democratic and Republican targets will be fair game, since both parties are increasingly under the control of the same corporate forces.
It’s time to start our own country.1
This just in: Not all the fools are Republicans. Recently, one Melissa Harris-Perry, a Tulane professor who moonlights on MSNBC political talk shows, wrote an article for the Nation titled “Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama.”
Last week, in response to the outcry at Balloon Juice over my posts about Michael Moore’s racist comments about President Obama (you can read them here and here), John Cole wrote a powerful post and instructive post.
While it is not in response to any of the furor over Melissa Harris-Perry’s posts in The Nation (about which I have written in the three posts prior to this one), it nonetheless should be read by every progressive and/or Democrat, irrespective of color.
I made the mistake of reading John Aravosis’ take on the furor induced by Melissa Harris-Perry’s articles in The Nation. I don’t know why I bothered.
After all, John Aravosis rarely (if ever) has anything nice to say about Obama; never has a word of understanding to offer; and — on the day that black Americans watched in horror as President Obama “prove to the man” that yes, he is an American citizen born in this country, actually had the temerity to wonder why President Obama “took so long” to release his birth certificate. With that in mind, John Aravosis’ “good show, old girl” post in defense of Joan Walsh is unsurprising:
The response to Professor Melissa Harris-Perry’s articles in The Nation — which argue that racism on the part of disaffected white liberals may be a factor in their disappointment — have garnered substantial (and, in my view, unfounded) criticism from those who seem oddly certain that Professor Harris-Perry was talking specifically about them. There seems to be a concerted effort to silence Harris-Perry or to force her to explain herself, replete with the standard name-calling and accusations of reverse racism (whatever the hell that is). These outraged folk demand that Harris-Perry explain herself because how dare she note that racism might be a factor in the relentless and often fact-free attacks on President Obama from the left. Where’s the proof that white liberals are racist? Where’s the data? Where are the graphs and pie charts? How do white liberals prove that they are not racist?
These sorts of questions are borne of the defensive posture into which folks in Blogistan have crouched to protect themselves from the difficult task of self-reflection and -examination. I have discussed my view that Joan Walsh has long taken this defensive stance.