Dear GOP: Just shut up about black people already. Good lord.

You know…I don’t know the first thing about being black.

I’m whiter than Angel Food Cake and, except for when I lived in a foreign land, have never even lived much around people who are a whole lot darker than Angel Food Cake. My current abode is in a town known for its diversity, and it’s pretty diverse, but white people are still pretty thick on the ground. And even if I were the only white person in all of Prince Georges County, I would still not know about being black.

Because I would still be white, you see.

But here’s what I do know:

Being told who you are, what’s wrong with you and your life and your loved ones and their lives (with the added bonus of unasked for and nationally broadcast advice) by people who clearly have no idea what your life is like is a fucking pain in the ass. I may be White As White Can Be, but I am a woman, and women tend to hear this sort of thing as a matter of course, regardless of color, and so at least I have a little insight into that part of it.

If I had to hear from national leaders that me and mine don’t know how to work, or are forever gobbling up the nation’s food stamp supply, or have too many babies, or let the Democrats abort too many of our babies, or that we are being kept on a political plantation by means of a political party’s wiles and our own native gullibility — when me and mine have an actual history of actual plantations and actual slavery and actual violent control of and sundering of our families — well, I don’t know what I would do. Because I have never had to live with that. Because however enraged I may get with the blatant, noxious, dehumanizing racism that has been pouring out of the mouths of GOP figures like so many sewers over the past few months — it’s never about me.

But I’ll tell you what: It sounds exhausting. And I simply cannot imagine having to face it every day.

Post-racial America, my Angel-Food-Cake ass.

Oh, and happy Black History Month.


  1. That’s the idea behind the post-racial meme, right? If more people believe that racism is “behind us”, then pointing out these things really is helpful, because it can’t be racist, see, because we’re beyond that now. They’re just trying to help those poor, oppressed blacks.

    ugh. I don’t think the oppressors get to declare the end of oppression. It’s, you know, not our call. (And as a white man, I’m pretty comfortable saying “our” in a literal sense. I may not be an active participant in oppression, but there’s no question that I’m a member of the group responsible for it, whether it’s racism or sexism.)

    I guess I look at the farce that is the current GOP in a similar way: this 1984-style campaigning that’s intended to appeal to, well, people like me (blue people in a red state). None of what they’re saying is really about me; it’s always about someone else, and seemingly always in dog-whistle terms … and yet couching what they’re saying in those terms means that even some of the people whom they’re talking about probably agree with what the GOP is saying, because they’re thinking “yeah, ‘those people’ don’t deserve handouts”, not realizing that GOP leadership isn’t talking about a narrow subset of people on public assistance.

    Well, they are, in a sense, but the focus changes depends on who’s in the target audience. That “smaller government” line works on some poor whites as well, who presumably don’t realize that “smaller government” will cut away their lifelines. It’s something I’d consider to be a clever tactic in other circumstances, pitting each group against the others, if it weren’t for the context: getting enough of each group to vote red so that they can slash public assistance and dump all of those groups on the street.


    • Rant on, my friend. You’ll get no argument from me. Dr. King knew exactly what he was doing when he started the Poor People’s Campaign — he knew exactly who should be allies with whom, and why the powers that be did not want to see that happen.

  2. Here here!

    Obama’s language in these matters has always sided with empathy, and the contrast with this current GOP bombardment is stark. Inclusive vs divisive.

    Really, I’d like for them to stop talking about what it is to be poor, or on any sort of assistance, or black, or any minority. These are a bunch of dudes who’ve likely never shopped for their own groceries, much less could possibly understand what it’s like to wait in line for their dole of government cheese.

  3. baiskeli

     /  February 1, 2012

    Can I get an Amen!

  4. Zorro

     /  February 1, 2012

    Mitt Romney is disqualified per se for the presidency because he probably doesn’t even know what the inside of a grocery store looks like, let alone know how to shop there.

    • baiskeli

       /  February 1, 2012

      If someone asked him the price of groceries he’d pull a Lamar Alexander (turn to your aide and whisper)

      “I need to know the price of a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs. I need to know right now.”

      But he’d probably not be as dumb as Alexander and do it with an open mike nearby.

  5. wow! this was an amazing post and your commenters are amazing! as a cuban/black man you stuck between a rock and a hard place. if i speak up, then i’m pulling the race card, if i say nothing then i get run over by the “white privilege express”… geesh

    there is a duality (generally speaking):

    1. black people need to continue to fight the fight, speak up and push back as hard as we can. additionally, we need to override the generational de-valuing of our culture and stop subscribing to those previous notions. doing so only keeps us oppressed by no one but ourselves!

    2. white people need to pay closer attention to what fair means. “passive fairness” doesn’t count. you know, the kind where you think your company is being “fair” because you have that one or two black employee(s). in “our” govt we do have those white advocates that “try” to fight for fairness but ironically none of them offer their seats up for a black/brown person thats just as qualified. <– thats an entirely different rant though!

    anyway, thank you my fellow bloggers for "stepping" out on this issue – i love you all for that! lets do this TOGETHER for HUMANS!

    humandkind <– be both.

    • Nice commentary.

      I’m struck by the number of white people who prefer to avoid this conversation entirely because it might lead to feeling a loss of – I don’t know, power, comfort, ease.

      Crazy world. The good thing is that good people of good will are making changes.

    • watson42

       /  February 1, 2012

      “Passive fairness” is a fantastic phrase. I’ve been trying to explain to concept to someone I know, but couldn’t come up with a concise way of describing it. This is spot on.

  6. I commented over at ABL, but I just wanted to note here, Emily, that they need a Pulitzer Prize for blogging and you need to win it.

  7. Yes, yes, yes, yes. THIS. Except I usually use the phrase “my shiny-white ass”.

  8. I applaud you and share your outrage, Emily.

  9. Lindsey

     /  February 2, 2012

    I think it’s silly to generalize ALL of the GOP as racist. I used to be a democrat who thought republicans are all just rich old racist white men, until I did some research. You would be suprised how much the liberal media can distort. I’ve read a ton of articles on this issue, here’s one I hope you take the time to read…

    • I try hard to differentiate between “the GOP,” by which I mean the party as an institution, and “Republicans,” by which I mean individual people who identify with and/or vote for the party. I do not for one minute believe that all Republicans are racists, but the party as an institution is consistently represented by white people, mostly men, who express and double down on a thoroughly racist ideology. If the GOP, as an institution, does not choose to repudiate the statements its representatives make, I can only presume those statements represent the GOP. Thus, while individual Republicans may or may not be racist (just like individual Democrats), the Republican Party most certainly is.

      And the term “liberal media” is lazy. I don’t need a media bias to make this quote “sound” racist: “98 percent of African-Americans vote Democrat, okay? What have they gotten for it? Poor schools, poor neighborhoods, crime-ridden neighborhoods, a destruction of the family, and the Democrats want to abort their babies. That’s their position. I’m not going to defend that.” The people who say these things know what they’re saying, and they do it on purpose.

      • corkingiron

         /  February 2, 2012

        Yeah – it’s a “Here. Let me prove this straw man doesn’t exist…” kind of argument. You don’t need to have a specific animus against Black people to defend the fruits of centuries of racism. If Newt Gingrich had said “I’m going to go to the NAACP Convention and I’m going to….listen”, we’d have a very different dynamic.

  10. Bunmi

     /  February 2, 2012

    Thank you! Just last month I made that comment to friends. Actually, my exact comment was, “Why are black people being targeted right now? Did we do something to Newt in the past because I don’t get it.” As a black woman, I appreciate that I’m not the only one who is noticing…

    • dmf

       /  February 2, 2012

      sadly, if you dare watch Faux News or read editorials in papers in the midwest or down in the bible-belt you will see that this scapegoating of minorities is an ongoing affair that is just getting some national airtime/exposure.

  11. Thank you, thank you for this statement about these ignorant pricks. You are right on the money. You are a cool woman.
    As for these politicians (and non-politicians) whom are racist-driven: These pricks whom have never lived a day being of our race, but have so much damn mouth about it. These pricks whom feed into stereotypes rather than admit it is not reality NOR are we the only race dealing with things like government assistance.
    To the ignorant, racists of the world, I say: F UUUUUUUUUUUUUU! Get a life and a brain.

  12. Zach

     /  February 2, 2012

    What GOP politicians referred to blacks when talking about food stamps? If youre referring to the now infamous food stamp president meme didnt mention blacks. Most americans on food stamps are white. So to me it seems that assuming they meant black people makes YOU racist. Also has anyone who is white talked about getting blacks off the government plantation. One i know that has is Allen West and he is African American, so then to use that to say white GOPers are racist against blacks is at the least disingenuous.

    • Newt Gingrich: “I will go to the NAACP convention and tell the African-American community why they should demand paychecks instead of food stamps.”

      I have googled for you a list of references to “Democratic plantation,” without references to either Cain or West:,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=21ae9f9a745b336d&biw=1440&bih=775

      Also, this may come as a shock to you, but black people can buy into racism, just as women can buy into misogyny.

      • Zach

         /  February 2, 2012

        And black people can just easily buy into race baiting.

        • Race baiting? You do understand what the NAACP is, do you not? I ask merely for clarification…

        • Zach

           /  February 2, 2012

          The articles i saw from your google list were all editorials. You’re making pretty scathing accusations about politicians with nothing to back it up. To quote a great poet of my time Micheal Jackson, “im starting with the man in the mirror. Im asking him to change his ways..if you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change”

          • I have actually backed it up, with links, starting with the one in the story, and then in response to your comment. (And editorials are – what, exactly? Garbage? They don’t refer to commonly shared cultural tropes?) Furthermore, the comments of the likes of Gingrich, Santorum, Charles Boustany (R-LA), Rick Tyler, Ron Paul, etc, etc, and etc, are all public knowledge. They are easily traced.

            If your interest is to merely deny facts and not engage in dialogue, I have no interest in hearing any more from you.

            • See, this is why the GOP’s tactics work … there will always be people who won’t believe it unless the evidence is spelled out simply and clearly for them, and even then, they will still have an excuse for it.

              I should know. I did this kind of thing when I was 8. I would wave my hand close to my little brother (who was 6) without touching him. It would bother him until he complained, “He’s touching me!” I’d then respond “I wasn’t touching him.” So therefore his complaint was invalid, right?

              Well, no, of course it was valid. I was bothering him on purpose, to get a reaction out of him, and hoping to get away with it on a technicality. Of course my parents knew this and punished me for it.

              It’s frustrating to see so many GOP candidates say whatever they want with not even an attempt to be honest, and to see so many people believing what they’re saying. So this is why we have to keep calling them out on it, right? There will always be those who believe the Newts no matter what, but there are a lot of people who can be swayed …

  13. Bunmi

     /  February 4, 2012

    Well said.

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