One Ebony Voice

The thoughts and views of an African-American...

The Acceptable Negro

According to NBC and Fox, the authors of the book Game Change, reported that during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Senator Harry Reid said that Barack Obama could win the election because he was a "light-skinned" African-American with "no Negro dialect...".

The issue was discussed January 10, 2010, on Fox News Sunday and also NBC's Meet the Press. GOP Chair Michael Steel and DNC Chair Tim Kaine were both asked to comment on the issue of Harry Reid's comments and whether or not Senator Reid shoud step down as Senate Majority Leader. To say that the Democrats are trying to "white wash" Harry Reid's comments is an understatement.

According to Tim Kaine, Harry Reid was trying to pay Barack Obama a compliment. Since when is implying someone is an acceptable negro a compliment? Under what circumstances would it be appropriate to consider an African-American an acceptable negro? Do African-Americans require inspection? Is this what happened to African and African-American slaves in the United States of America? When being sold into slavery or sold as slaves, were these Africans or people of African descent "inspected" as they stood on the auction block and determined to be acceptable or not acceptable by white people? How could Senator Reid's alleged comments not be considered of the same mindset as those of slave owners, and those who made money through the slave trade?

Whether Senator Reid's alleged remarks were from his own personal view or whether he was anticipating the views of other voters, the attitude that produced those words could not be called anything but racist and characteristic of an era gone by.

Other Implications

As a registered voter, the circumstances of Senator Reid's alleged comments bring to mind other questions. When African-Americans run for political office, are they elected based on how light their skin tones are? If African-Americans who are of dark complexion are elected, how much cooperation can they expect from other elected officials of other races? Do dark skinned African-American elected officials have a harder time getting things done simply because of the complexion of their skin?

Harry Reid did not want Roland Burris seated as a US Senator from Illinois. At the time, it was reported that Roland Burris could not get re-elected if he ran for the US Senate. Roland Burris is an African-American, but is not light-skinned. In light of Senator Reid's comments, the situation is interesting to say the least. Evidently, even with his experience and expertise in law, and honorable service in the State of Illinois, Roland Burris was not an acceptable negro for service as a Democratic US Senator.

After Michael Steel was voted GOP Chairman, the Democrats raised the issue of whether or not Michael Steel or Rush Limbaugh was the leader of the GOP. At the time the issue was first raised, I called the question what it was -- racist. My convictions about that matter are reinforced by the situation with Senator Harry Reid's comments. The Democrats trying to lay racial issues at the feet of the GOP is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. (Any and all puns intended and emphasized.)

Taking Senator Reid's alleged comments into consideration, Michael Steel's complexion is a shade darker than Barack Obama's. Were the Democrats quick to jump on Michael Steel as elected GOP Chair because he is too dark skinned? Was Michael Steel attacked by the Democrats because the GOP had elected as its chairman an African-American who the Democrats DO NOT consider an "acceptable negro"?

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is dark skinned. He has been ostricized by many African-Americans. At first glance it seemed to be because he is a Republican. African-Americans usually do not like other African-Americans who are not Democrats. Were African-American Democrats brainwashed into disliking Justice Thomas not realizing that Caucasian Democrats did not like him because he was too dark and therefore not an "acceptable negro"? (I really think that ANY African-American who challenges Democratic platforms or thoughts will be vilified.) By the way, Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by a Democrat. However, Thurgood Marshall was light skinned. Is there a pattern here?

A Local Issue

I live an a small Southern city with a majority African-American population. The city has an African-American mayor, a majority African-American City Commission and an African-American city manager. They are all catching hell from the Caucausian minority population in the city. Whether or not the African-Americans have made mistakes, the Caucasian-Americans seem to be having a hard time with "not being in controll" of our city government. What is really ironic is that financially, the city is doing better than the County which has a Caucasian County Chairman, and a Caucasian County Manager. I have long believed that the County has been mismanaging County money. There is a big push to consolidate the city and the county. The push is from the Caucasians. I have long wondered whether or not the Caucasians are giving the African-Americans hell because they want to "cover up" their lack of ability to handle the County's finances (and economic development). If that is the case then consolidating is the WORSE thing that could happen. Why put the foxes in charge of the hen house? But that is another matter.... What is clear is that none of the African-American elected officials in my small Southern city are "acceptable negroes" to the Caucasians who are constantly raising hell.

The Hollywood Connection

When thinking about the concept of "The Acceptable Negro", it is hard not to think about "The Hollywood Connection". Isn't it funny that the acting rolls involving African-Americans that are most aclaimed in Hollywood are the rolls that show African-Americans in a negative light, as victims of society or worse. In the history of Hollywood, how many rolls have shown African-Americans as successful people with a positive influence and a positive outlook? Not many. The rolls involving African-Americans are stereotypical and show them in a negative light. Even the recent movie, "Precious" does nothing to improve the image of African-Americans. The Cosby Show was ground breaking as a tv show that depicted African-Americans positively. Did that show ever win an Emmy? No. That is not the image that "Hollywood" wanted to protray of African-Americans. They would rather give an Oscar for a role in Training Day than for a role that portrays African-Americans positively. (No disrespect to Denzel Washington as an actor. He is excellent in his craft and deserves his award. But he probably would not have won for the same excellence in a different role.) By the way, most of the Hollywood community are Democrats. Get the connection?

The End of Plantation Mentality?

Maybe this episode with Senator Harry Reid's comments will produce more critical thinking by voters, especially African-American voters. I believe that people have a right to make their own political decisions and affiliations based on their own views and opinions -- without manipulation. That is sometimes difficult because of the political games being played by elected political leaders as well as political operatives. However, the issue with Senator Reid's alleged comments have the potential of moving voters to take a more critical look at why they have formed their political alliances and really choose what is right for them. Unmasking hidden racist attitudes such as the concept of "The Acceptable Negro" is a good start. What ever choice individuals make is good as long as the choice is genuinely theirs.

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