"You see the Republican convention?"
"I can't look at that. I'd get so upset."
"It was worse than you think—like a Klan rally."
That little back and forth came courtesy of colleagues—-well, on one of my gigs; don't get me started on that story—-discussing the second or third evening of that raucous gathering in Florida. The woman calling the Republican convention a Klan rally I would not call a militant. Frankly, she's usually the least angry black person in the office. You know one of those black people who always think you're blaming white people—for everything? Trayvon Martin? Please, child. You got more blacks killing each other than whites. You know. That person.
But even she couldn't defend the throwback get-together in Tampa.
It is that season again—time to focus on—very, very publicly—who we really are.
Let's see: We're —and in no particular order—takers or moochers mired in a culture that favors food stamps and unemployment checks over work—even if the government checks are much less.
Anderson Cooper often gets on my nerves. I'm sure he does yours too when he starts going through all that "keeping them honest bit," which could mean weighing equally a Republican caught in a lie about killing puppies with a Democratic obviously lying about what he ate for lunch last Thursday in the congressional dining hall.
But he asked a right-winger a very good question the other day. I think it was that lady married to that fast talking former Clinton adviser. I don't know how she gets about but you wouldn't be surprised if it's by a popular sweeping tool.
Are you saying people want to collect unemployment checks? Anderson asked her.
No, she said, that's not what I'm saying. Her explanation, of course, underscored Anderson's accusation. Anderson just smiled.
But is that what they're saying? Because if it is, it is very racist. And it is strange that it's taken someone from the mainstream media so long to ask them that. They've become very comfy saying it, as if they know media folks don't dare question them. Newt can call Obama the "welfare president," and Santorum and party leader Limbaugh can condemn pretty much all of black culture, while, in Limbaugh's case, slave/sidekick Bo Snerdley, my 2012 Collaborator of the Year award winner, laughs.
Listening to them, and the reaction of the crowd, you'd think no black earned a paycheck. (Well, except for self-loathers like Snerdley who agree with them, or those who got them unfairly because of that affirmative action. Yup, you're right, spooks can't win. Oh, by the way, we are going to have to do something about these collaborators. They're not amusing anymore, which makes them simply dangerous.)
I got home from my night gig in time to catch a couple of nights of the convention, when the majors spoke.
I knew what my day colleague meant. I did feel like taking a shower after hearing them—and seeing all those white faces cheering. I mean, what did Rubio say that Obama wouldn't? Obama has said that his story could happen only in America. He implores folks to work hard, study, etc. So Rubio and the others must be saying dem dere blacks don't want no 'tunity. Dey jest wants dem welfare checks. What else could they be saying?
I'm feigning consternation a bit here; several polls show a large percentage of white Republicans believe that blacks would rather live off the dole than work.
They're also implying that blacks have the same access to that opportunity—jobs and loans—as do whites. Forget the big cities, which are bad enough. Have these people been to places like Valdosta, Ga. lately? I've contended for some time now that, if we're gonna have a capitalistic society, you probably don't need government programs for long if you really arrest execs from companies that discriminate against the non-majority types. If he's making the decent salary you're making, why would his school be bad?
This is greater than the implied dirt metaphor really. It's as if that tableau takes pieces of you, some place inside, or maybe some actual life-supporting organ, while you're just sitting there watching it being pulled away. Wow, you're going. And these people expect me to fight for them in their little wars?
My colleagues' discussion of the Republican convention reminded me of another discussion by two black colleagues back in the seventies. We worked in a primarily white setting, and the whites loved Big Eddie because he was so friendly and cheerful to them. (Also, he was, well, big and I got the impression they didn't want someone that big and that black angry with them.) "You seen 'Roots' yet," our fellow worker asked Big Eddie. "Man, I can't look at that. I might mess around and kill some of these crackers."
The Democratic convention begins Tuesday, right? I think Obama speaks Thursday. I have some advice for him. Your people are hurting, sir. Even with the disproportionately high unemployment among them in these high-unemployment times, they're willing to vote for you again. They know what you're up against; they fight these folks on a different level nearly daily. And some of them—let's be honest—would volunteer to starve if your winning causes Glenn Beck to drop dead from the shock. But I believe this has gone even beyond your winning too.
This is the season to repair the holes in their heart.
Which means, sir, words have destinations and these can become confused by elusive euphemisms, erudite symbols, or intentional vagueness.
Which means, brother, you are going to have to bring it.