Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Thursday, September 16, 2004  

Politics: Obama not black enough for Keyes

Blogger Prometheus 6 once became so exasperated by professional handkerchief head Jesse Lee Peterson that he said he was declaring war on him. I am approaching the same point in regard to another tool of the enemy. I previously reported far Right loose cannon Alan Keyes had moved to Illinois so he could participate in an electoral battle royale against liberal rising star Barack Obama.

The latest act in the Black CON-servative Revue is Alan Keyes' relocation to Illinois so that he can run against Democrat Barack Obama for the Senate. Keyes' goal is a battle royale -- a fight between blacks set up by slaveowners in the ante-bellum South. The slaves would slug it out, bare-fisted, until one of them collapsed or was killed. The battle royale was considered excellent entertainment by many whites, as lynching would be later. However, the underpinnings of this show are obviously shabby. There is no reason whatsoever for Keyes to run for office in Illinois, other than attempting to embarass Obama. The white Republicans backing him reveal their racism and moral bankruptcy by encouraging him to revive the slavish practice of the battle royale.

Since his arrival, Keyes has behaved just as foolishly as I expected. Now, he is accusing the soon to be senator of not being black enough.

Law professor Richard Thompson Ford has considered Keyes' latest faux pas at Slate.

Meanwhile Republican Alan Keyes complained that the Democratic Party's rising star, Barack Obama—the son of a Kenyan immigrant—" [wrongly] claims an African-American heritage."

. . .Keyes (channeling the spirit of liberal multiculturalism to perfection) emotes: "My ancestors toiled in slavery in this country. ... My consciousness, who I am as a person, has been shaped by my struggle, deeply emotional and deeply painful, with the reality of that heritage." This might be a moving first sentence in an autobiography, or an important revelation to one's psychotherapist, but in the context of national politics, who cares? Subjective accounts of personal identity are at best distractions from more tangible and objective issues of racial injustice—such as employment discrimination, residential segregation, and an often racially biased criminal justice system. At its worst, the narcissism of identity politics threatens to mire the struggle for racial justice in intractable conceptual debates and ineffectual emotionalism.

Though Ford focuses on racial identity and affirmative action, I believe there is a simpler, less esoteric answer to Keyes. A person born in America of an African parent is a type of black American. Obama, because of his appearance, has experienced the same kind of discrimination as Americans descended from West African slaves. Those applying the stigma of slave descent do not ask for a genealogy first. They see a person with some African features and respond. Furthermore, Obama has chosen to identify with the African-American segment of the population -- including marrying a black woman and working as an advocate for low-income, mainly African-American citizens of his state. In fact, Obama has a closer nexus to the concerns of the majority of African-Americans than Keyes, with his extremist views, does. Keyes' real constituency is the far Right white folks who have supported him throughout his career. Obama's core constituency, on the other hand, is African-Americans in Illinois. He is black enough for them.

What's the lingo?

Singer Billy Paul recorded the R&B hit "Am I Black Enough for You?" in the 1970s. As Ford says, who is more authentic is often a subtext of interaction among minority Americans.

posted by J. | 11:45 PM

Tuesday, September 14, 2004  

Politics: Southern rebels 'flag' Kerry

So many lies are being told about Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry that I don't dwell on most of them. He is French. He intends to socialize medicine in the United States. He inflicted wounds on himself to obtain medals in Vietnam. But, this whopper left even me taken aback. According to the Georgia Heritage Coalition, Kerry intends to impose a Gay Flag on the citizenry, first in Massachusetts and then nationally, if he is elected president. They even have a picture of it.

You are wondering. . . .

Q: What is the Heritage Coalition?

A. Heritage Coalitions are neo-Confederate organizations. They exist in nearly all Southern states. Their objective is to turn back the hands of time -- to around 1855. Politically, the Heritage Coalitions are similar to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the League of the South, but less sophisticated. Their rhetoric and actions tend to be more blatantly hostile to outgroups. The Heritage Coalitions' relationship to the Ku Klux Klan is also more overt. The then chief of the Alabama Heritage Coalition was photographed accepting an award at a KKK banquet last year.

Q: Why are they expressing hatred for gays; isn't it blacks who get their goat?

A. Hate groups are relatively equal opportunity these days. Just about anyone who is not a straight white Christian with far Right views may be deemed unacceptable. Targeting of gays has become more common as issues such as gay marriage have become prominent in the news. Anti-immigration sentiment, directed at Hispanics and Asians, is also increasing among members of groups such as the Heritage Coalitions.

Q: Why are they mad at John Kerry?

A: Because he is French. (Wink.) Kerry represents everything a member of a Heritage Coalition resents. He is a Yankee of the worst sort -- patrician and from that incubator of troublemakers, Massachusetts. He is very, very rich. He is a liberal.

Q: But, John Kerry has said he favors the traditional definition of marriage. Don't the members of the Georgia Heritage Coalition know that?

A: Probably not. They are ignorant people.

Part of the appeal of monitoring the neo-Confederate movement is that one can never underestimate its members. This gesture is an example of how low they can go.

posted by J. | 8:00 AM

Sunday, September 12, 2004  

In Memoriam: Aaron Hawkins

My blog friend, Michael Bowen, at Cobb, has written a touching entry about the death of one of the longest term bloggers of color, Aaron Hawkins, the blogosphere's very own Uppity Negro. Michael says he did not know Aaron well, but considered him one of his blogfathers. I wish to second that sentiment. Aaron added my blogs to his blogroll soon after I moved from guest blogging to being independent. I could always depend on him to promote any civil rights related topic he became aware of or I emailed him about. I was also a reader of his entries, particularly about music and culture. As some of you may have noticed, in recent months, I have begun writing more often about the topic myself. Part of the credit for that belongs to our departed comrade. Through his entries the relationship between African-American culture and its music became more clear to me. Often, what is not being said in print media or books, is being said in the music. I lack the strong sense of music history that Aaron brought to his entries about music, but will attempt to carry part of the tradition he began on.

One of the vintage soul songs I listened to on my iPod, Titaness, earlier this evening was Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions' "Choice of Colors."

First stanza
If you had a choice of colors,
Which one would you choose my brothers?
If there was no day or night
Which would you prefer to be right?
How long have you hated your white teacher
Who told you you love your black preacher?
Do you respect your brother's woman friend?
And share with black folks not of kin?

People must prove to the people
A better day is coming for you and for me.
With just a little bit more education
And love for our nation
We'll make a better society.

There is no doubt in my mind how Aaron would answer that question. I know he loved being African-American, despite the seemingly endless challenges that identity brings with it. Even the title of his blog, Uppity Negro, reflected his pride. It was like holding out a red flag in the overly conservative blogosphere. Aaron's entries gave no quarter, either. He said exactly what he thought, without seeking white people's permission to do so. Aaron was for real -- a proud black man with a mind of his own.

Michael has decided how he will remember Aaron.

I tell you what I'm going to do, which is what I do whenever somebody I know dies. I pick up a piece of their life and I carry it in the direction they were going. So I'm going to find out the closest thing AHawk and I vibed on, and I'll continue on that vibe. So that little part lives on.

Cry now. Cry as hard as you can. Cry it all out now until you dehydrate your eyes. Cry until it hurts, until you can't cry any longer. Until you feel stupid crying. Then pick up that piece and start walking. Strong.

I will be doing the same. Aaron Hawkins is gone, but the music will play on. I'll write about it.

What you can do

Aaron Hawkins' family is maintaining his blog. His sister, Val, has posted an entry about his death and the funeral. If you are a reader of Uppity Negro, visit again. If you were not, explore the current blog and the archives. You will discover some fine blogging.

posted by J. | 10:00 PM