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Stuff White Politicians Say… to Black People

If you haven’t seen Franchesca Ramsey’s “S#@t White Girls Say.. To Black Girls”* yet, take a look. It is a very funny and very powerful piece about the sort of accidental racism that happens. From “Can I touch your hair?” to “This is soooo ghetto,” it perfectly captures the painful banality of racism.

But with the GOP primaries coming to their seemingly inevitable conclusion of a Romney (perhaps Romney/Santorum) ticket, it is time to consider how not funny a video of “S#@t White Politicians Say… to Black People” would be.

Opening scene would be Newt Gingrich’s extremely bizarre and accidentally racist tirade against “poor” children not knowing the value of work. Calling child labor laws “stupid” and outlining his plan for the forced after-school labor of poor children as  janitors in their schools in order to become productive citizens, Gingrich tentatively felt his way through the minefield of race baiting now being called by some observers “black tongue disease.”

This predictable attack on the “culture of poverty,” a long-standing tradition of blaming poverty, especially poverty among black Americans, on their “culture” rather than on structural issues like unemployment, lack of access to education, and, of course, racism, established Gingrich’s credentials as a cracker with a Ph.D.

Gingrich followed up this accidentally racist tirade with a much more purposeful one on January 5th, attacking reliance on food stamps.

“The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple — food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history… if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, pointed out that most people on food stamps are not black and that the vast majority of people receiving food stamps have jobs, but cannot afford to eat. But the technicalities of not earning a livable wage were lost on Millionaire Newt.

Jealous had already called Rick Santorum out in Iowa for saying this racist s#@t:

I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

Poor Mr. Jealous, because just as soon as Santorum and Gingrich got done spewing racist s#@t, along comes news of the blatantly racist s#@t Ron Paul said in various newsletters he sent out in the 1980s and ’90s. S#@t like

    “Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
    and
    “We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”

This “red neck” strategy of Ron Paul’s is being dismissed as just that, a strategy that didn’t yield political payoff and so was abandoned. Ron Paul says he himself is not racist since libertarians are incapable of racism because racism sees people as a group and libertarianism demands each person be seen as an individual. Paul also says he is the only candidate to talk about the discrimination of drug laws that have resulted in the mass incarceration of black men.

Which leaves us with Mitt Romney. That seemingly oh so reasonable GOP candidate, the one about whom even left-leaning sorts have been known to say “a Romney presidency is not unimaginable.” But alas, Romney has black tongue disease as well.  Romney was recently criticized for having an all white staff. His response: he only hires the best workers and if they happen to be all white, so be it. The Black Chamber of Commerce has called Romney out for this “bigot code.” Romney has, of course, said other stupid s#@t to black people, like using the term “tar baby,” not to mention that he refused to go to the inauguration of Deval Patrick, his successor as governor of Massachusetts and a black man. According to the Black Chamber of Commerce,

It is a long tradition that when inaugurating a new Governor in Massachusetts they have a ceremonial passing of the gavel.  The outgoing Governor stands and hands over the gavel to the new Governor and exits the building as the new Governors stands to the podium and delivers his inauguration address. For the first time in history and without comment Mitt Romney refused to participate in the ceremony and recognize the new black Governor.  That sounds like the old George Wallace or Strom Thurmond type of stuff.

Yeah, the video of “S#@t White Politicians Say… to Black People” just wouldn’t be funny because their racism may be banal, but it is hardly accidental. They are attempting to mobilize white fear into a voting block. It is a familiar strategy with the GOP. Getting straight people to vote out of fear of “the gay agenda” and white people to vote because “black people are stealing our tax dollars” or just plain “scary” is nothing new. Perhaps the only thing that is new is the not-so-laughable fact that one of these white politicians could win in November.


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