Ahhh…. 9 days into the New Year and we are kicking off a new decade with an old prejudice rearing its head. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was recently exposed for rather patronizing remarks about Barack Obama. As Reid appraised then candidate for president, he deemed him as “a light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”
The mind of liberal racism has spoken! Now, Reid has apologized for his remarks, and President Obama has accepted it. This statement, even though some may interpret it as a personal affront, is loaded with two powerful stigmas that are deep rooted in American race relations.
The first is the “light-skinned” quip. Historically, fairer skinned Black people have been regarded as more amicable and less threatening than some of the darker brothers and sisters. Its one of our oldest divisions and it is still utilized to drive a wedge between us.
The second is the “Negro dialect” statement.
This is a vintage back-handed compliment. The judging of Black speech patterns and the ability of some to “escape” their confines has been another dividing line between the safe Blacks and the menacing ones. Not only does Reid laud Obama’s oratorical skills, but he duly notes his verbal dexterity in alternating between the Standard English of every upstanding American and what he terms as the “Negro dialect” It is almost as if he is trying to say that this is a Black malady that he is not afflicted with.
Translation: He talks real good; he isn’t like the rest of THEM.
I am not attempting to demonize Harry Reid, but I just think it is important that we understand where these ideas come from. These notions of Black sub-standard speaking ability are so powerful that even those coming from a liberal point of view see us through this lense.
Oh, and for the record, I will not be reading this aloud. My inherent inability to string coherent sentences together and break free of my dialect forbids such a strenuous endeavor on my part.
*Enrolls himself in speech classes to reduce his “Black accent”*
*Buys a set of marbles to practice talking *
And its only January folks!