Here’s Washingon Post columnist Eugene Robinson’s list of reasons why Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice isn’t really an African-American:
l. She votes Republican:
“Like a lot of African Americans, I’ve long wondered what the deal was with Condoleezza Rice and the issue of race. How does she work so loyally for George W. Bush, whose approval rating among blacks was measured in a recent poll at a negligible 2 percent? How did she come to a worldview so radically different from that of most black Americans? Is she blind, is she in denial, is she confused — or what?”
2. She’s middle-class:
“After spending three days with the secretary of state and her entourage as she toured Birmingham, where she grew up in a protective bubble as the tumult of the civil rights movement swirled around her, I have a partial answer: It’s as if Rice is still cosseted in her beloved Titusville, the [Birmingham, Ala.] neighborhood of black strivers where she was raised, able to see the very different reality that other African Americans experience but not to reach out of the bubble — not able to touch that other reality, and thus not able to really understand it.
3. She doesn’t hate white people:
“Rice’s parents tried their best to shelter their only daughter from Jim Crow racism, and they succeeded. Forty years later, Rice shows no bitterness when she recalls her childhood in a town whose streets were ruled by the segregationist police chief Bull Connor.”
4. She’s so dumb that she didn’t even notice when her dad took out his gun to defend the family against segregationist diehards:
“When Rice was growing up, her father stood guard at the entrance of her neighborhood with a rifle to keep the Klan’s nightriders away. But that was outside the bubble. Inside the bubble, Rice was sitting at the piano in pretty dresses to play Bach fugues. It sounds like a wonderful childhood, but one that left her able to see the impact that race has in America — able to examine it and analyze it — but not to feel it.”
Yup, to be a true African-American, you’ve got to vote Democratic, collect welfare checks, carry grudges against white people, and obsess about a segregationist past that has mercifully passed away, allowing you to rise to become the most powerful woman in America. Sounds like Toni Morrison’s insistence a few years ago that Bill Clinton was our “first black president” because he was a slickly dressed womanizer.
Here is Robinson’s characterization of the way real blacks–like Eugene Robinson–are supposed to think:
“I know very few black Americans who think of themselves fully as insiders in this society. No matter how high we rise, there’s always that reality that Rice acknowledges: The society isn’t colorblind, not yet. It’s not always in the front of your mind, but it’s there. We talk about it, we overcome it, but it’s there.”
Isn’t Robinson contradicting himself here? If Condi “acknowledges” that we’re not yet a colorblind society, maybe she’s not as oblivious to racial reality as he says she is. And I love Robinson’s claim that he doesn’t consider himself to be “fully” an “insider” in American society. Here is an excerpt from his official Post bio:
“In a 25-year career at The Washington Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s award-winning Style section. He has written books about race in Brazil and music in Cuba, covered a heavyweight championship fight, witnessed riots in Philadelphia and a murder trial in the deepest Amazon, sat with presidents and dictators and the Queen of England, parried and thrusted with hair-proud politicians from sea to shining sea, handicapped all three editions of ‘American Idol,’ acquired fluent Spanish and passable Portuguese….”
Sounds like the consummate insider to me.