Why Can’t Politicians Say “Light-Skinned Negro”?

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada)

Why Can’t Harry Reid Say, ” Light Skinned Negro”?

Yesterday, a story hit the blogosphere that is now gaining traction, most likely because it centers on a “controversial” statement about race made by a mainstream political leader–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev).

Like most political junkies, I’ve observed that politicians avoid discussing race at all cost–at least in public. This appears to be the case irrespective of the politician’s own race. Unless they’re compelled to address it, as was Barack Obama during the explosion of negativity around Rev. Jeremiah Wright, you can pretty much count on race not being discussed on the campaign trail. Judging from their stump speeches, one would think that America does not have nor has it ever had any race problems.

Even during the early days of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, then-candidate Obama appeared to be reluctant to come out on that issue. It wasn’t until it became apparent that the hoopla was damaging his campaign that Obama delivered his now famous “Race Speech

So what did Reid say that is causing people to talk? According to Game Change, written by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, as reported by The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder:

“[Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama’s race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.”

Obviously, this statement was made before the president was elected, during a time of uncertainty as to whether this country would elect a black man. When asked about his remarks today, Sen. Reid has said that he regrets making them.

Sharon KyleIn a written statement, Reid said, “I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments. I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign and have worked as hard as I can to advance President Obama’s legislative agenda. Moreover, throughout my career, from efforts to integrate the Las Vegas strip and the gaming industry to opposing radical judges and promoting diversity in the Senate, I have worked hard to advance issues important to the African American community.”

No doubt, there will be a lot more discussion around Reid’s statement. But will there, in fact, be a lot more understanding? I wonder.

So here’s your chance to give us your opinion. You’ve got two ways to do it. Fill in the poll below or send us your comments. We’ll report the outcome in the next LA Progressive Newsletter.

[poll id="19"]

Sharon Kyle
Publisher, LA Progressive

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Comments

  1. Bill Rieken says

    You miss the whole point of what the authors were documenting: Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, was playing the role of king-maker by suggesting that Barack Obama should run for president. There was a group of influential senators who carried the ball on this and privately supported Obama while publicly supporting Hillary. Obama was hardly an “outsider” to Washington — he was (is) an inexperienced rookie who would not challenge the leadership in Congress.

    This was not at all about race.

  2. Lee Rowan says

    Dialect is an indicator of intelligence? Not at all. But to quote Maya Angelou, “Children do not need to be taught Ebonics, they need to be taught elocution.” She was speaking of how a person’s use of language affects how that person is perceived, and I’d love to cite the interview, but it was years ago and I just don’t remember.

    The way a person speaks, particularly a person in the public eye, can be an indicator of intelligence, but more importantly, of education. This is another double standard, of course–Bill Clinton was a Harvard grad, but his ‘folksy’ approach in not eliminating his southern accent gave him far more appeal among working whites. Conversely, President Obama’s careful, measured speech patterns make it clear that he is nobody’s dummy and isn’t willing to pretend to be. I think his obvious intelligence scares a lot of working (low-income) white people as much as his color. The combination is, for them, terrifying. (I do not agree with this perception, I’m just noting it. Eight years of a dumb President made the US a laughingstock in the world.)

    As a white person, it’s hard to know how to refer to someone of another race. Yes, of course, I call my friends by name and I call Barack Obama “Mr. President, but that doesn’t really help in talking about racial issues in general. Friends my own age, who grew up in the 70’s, are comfortable being called “black.” Their parents (those still with us) prefer “negro.”

    I read blog comments in which people of African descent say that the issues surrounding race need to be discussed more thoroughly because there’s no hope of resolving any of them if we ignore them. I think they’re absolutely right. But it’s nearly impossible to discuss anything if one does not know which term is going to be acceptable, and which term will send the discussion off on a tangent. A white person who says “the black kids in my son’s class seem to do about as well as the white kids” and gets blasted for saying ‘black’ isn’t going to continue the conversation.

    People tend to use short words when possible. “White” is easy. So is “black.” “Light-skinned person of color” is not. That’s okay for a speech, but it won’t hold up in ordinary conversation. And some of the acronyms are already ‘taken’ in the wider context–AA is Alcoholics Anonymous.

    As long as we let the right-wing sow dissent over this issue, they’ll exploit it as much as they possibly can. Black, African-American, person of color … I’m not being sarcastic when I say that I wish that, instead of coyly asking what readers think, Ms Kyle would share what she thinks about the terminology. Please–as one human being to another–don’t assume racism when the real problem is ignorance. That can be cured.

  3. says

    .

    It is often a surprise for people to learn that,
    in reality, there is actually No Such Thing
    As a “Light Skinned Black” person.

    The term “Light Skinned Black” is really nothing more
    than a racist oxymoron that was created by racial
    Supremacists in an effort to forcibly deny those
    Mixed-Race individuals, who are of what is referred
    to as being a Multi-Generational Multiracially-Mixed
    (MGM-Mixed) Lineage, the right to fully embrace and
    to also receive public support in choosing to acknowledge
    the truth regarding their complete ancestral heritage.

    The people who have been slapped with the false label and
    oxymoronic misnomer of “Light Skinned Black” person are
    simply Mixed-Race individuals — who are from families
    which have became and have remained continually
    Mixed-Race throughout their multiple generations.

    It should also be noted that no one is saying that having
    a light skin complexion is the ‘only’ or even a ‘required’
    proof of being of a continuously Mixed-Race lineage.

    What is simply being said here is that it is just one
    of the clearly-visible and openly undeniable forms
    of proof that a person is of a Mixed-Race lineage.

    For more information on MGM-Mixed lineage, feel free to
    view the information at the found at the links listed below:

    answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ag4UceOKYaro21HdnN8w.mgjzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=20071103085813AAolWV5

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1399

    answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AjwuxYj8agKY7yGgqaJ7i.Xty6IX?qid=20070704121228AA7ZMsA&show=7#profile-info-ezQwEaJLaa

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/3331

    answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Al5eeK2CFwcv4rD5U5qzvEfty6IX?qid=20070527201834AAIhzhM&show=7#profile-info-CiC2JY9Maa

    answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AiebDu.tSshJzQ0wS5fMp7jty6IX?qid=20070623205206AANUzPN&show=7#profile-info-q1hdwifgaa

    boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=34070161&postcount;=13

    newsblaze.com/story/20090621155502zzzz.nb/topstory.html

    boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=34070414&postcount;=14

    [[[ Also --- contrary to popular mixconception, the term of
    'African-American' (AA) does NOT mean (racially) Black.

    It is simply a reference to the Ethnic grouping of people
    (as opposed to a 'racial' grouping of people) who are:
    "the descendants-of-the-survivors of the chattel slavery
    system that took place on the continental United States
    during the antebellum period of the nation's history."

    The Ethnic group known as the 'African-Americans' (AA)
    are found to have a wide variety and range of skin tones,
    hair textures, facial features and body sizes and types --
    which are a result of the fact that more than 70% of the
    people born to two (2) AA parents are of an ancestral
    lineage includes +20-30 European & +25% Amerindian.

    Again, the group known as 'African-American' (AA) is not
    a 'Racial' grouping of people and it is also not the same
    group of people that is referred to as 'Black American' (BA).

    While the AAs are a largely Mixed-Race ETHNIC grouping
    and are composed of "the descendants of the survivors"
    -- and the BAs on the other hand, are a Black RACE
    grouping that is composed of 'volitional immigrants'.]]”

    SOURCE:

    boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=35284580&postcount=4

    RELATED LINKS:

    answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AjwuxYj8agKY7yGgqaJ7i.Xty6IX?qid=20070704121228AA7ZMsA&show=7#profile-info-ezQwEaJLaa

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/3331

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/2885

    boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=34070161&postcount;=13

    mgmix.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=879:light-skin-curse-a-different-point-of-view&catid=36:biracial#comment-1271

    newsblaze.com/story/20090621155502zzzz.nb/topstory.html

    boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=34070414&postcount;=14

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/3344

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1399

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1747

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1402

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1400

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1570

    groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1573

    .

  4. lou says

    HA. my best friend is a HArvard Lawyer(oooooh, the “some of my best friends are___” lick was an embarrasment when Harry Reid was young)and i love him more than a brother…
    when i first heard of the senator from illinois i HEARD a harvard lawyer, and made sure i had a hand on my wallet.sorry.
    i was happy to hear he plays basketball.
    does this make me a bigot????
    when he went south and spoke the local patois in church, i fell offa my chair laughing.he reminded me of that kid on fresh prince-not the will smith guy, the other guy with the alligator shirts-dancing.
    am i a racist???? of course, i am an american-can’t have one without the other…my playmates had to learn about enchiladas as i had to learn from red beans & rice and plantains…we were allll racist.my rice & beans taste better than yours.
    harvard guy. lawyer. political-oooh, hand shaker, back patter.
    and????what, he wants to be the leader of the best place in the world (if you don’t think it is, go someplace else and see where everybody wants to be) but i still hear groucho saying nobody who would want the gig could be qualified, and if they say they wanna serve-grab your wallet.
    is that bigotry??? i dunno.

    i really love this new president-sure,i see a cat who wears bespoke shoes and suits, but he speaks in paragraphs and spouts real thoughts and ideas, he’s a teacher in love with the constitution, the laws we have sworn by since socrates and tut…a thinker, a leader who draws on history-hey, lincoln always said he had to lead from behind, to bring the nation together rather than force his will…
    ok- he’s a great politician, and a harvard lawyer. i called him on it. am i a racist for praising him with these faint damns???

    so back to harry reid, our small-town guy who wants to sound like mr deeds sometimes(i live in NV, a verrry racist place-these gringos won’t even pronounce the name of the state right-it’s a spanish word, ne-vaaaah-da)but who is a verrry sophisticated politician…
    sorry, harry reid called a spa…oops, can’t say that one…uh, harry nailed his constituents, calls ‘em like he sees ‘em…
    they hate dave chappell, ice t, fear malcom, think dr king was a commie, and wish Ike were still in charge. you think i’m kidding? read our newspaper.i start big fights by praising roosevelt and the WPA, or questioning reaganomix and earl butz. this is the wild west, babe.they wouldn’t vote for cosby.or oprah.

    harry is political. he knows the territory. you gotta sell the right product in the right package. i know, it’s blasphemy to say such things about Our Cherished Democratic Republic in this Political Climate…
    but it makes us see ourselves for what we are…we see everything in terms of class, and here, race is part of that.
    clinton was a dude from ARKANSAS-another lawyer, broken up family…
    sure. a Rhodes Scholar (ok-paul robeson went to oxford, right??)
    and i don’ remember anybody said “oooh, a trailer parks???”

    of course a “well-spoken light Kneee-grow” will get over…
    this town used to be called las vegas misssisssssipppppi, for godssakes.

    i’m sorry, america.

    i grew up in So Central, when the kids said “if you white you right,if you black get back…,” when black men from the south embarrased us by knocking on our back door because thats the way it was. i am a chicano. back then i was a mexican, and i went to school with black, brown, yellow, grey,and white kids. the black and brown kids were encouraged to go to shop classes. the yellow ones were pushed into sciences & math.
    we shared one great teacher-ivan baldwin. he encouraged us all to be brilliant, and pushed us and drilled us and told us all to strive and work…no matter what we came from, he expected us to graduate and get into a college. took that for granted. my peers began to see possibilities where there had been barriers, choices where the dead-ends had been.

    things changed when cassius clay became a big olympic hero, and malcom started getting attention.
    our elders, black, brown, and white, feared dr. king because he was going to mess with the tiny progress “kneee-grows” had made goin’ into the end of Ike’s era.king wasn’t welcomed in LA. yorty ran on “you don’t want THOSE people in charge, do ya??” platforms.

    i grew up in So Central when black men cleared the sidewalk when a white man or woman came their way.these black americans looked down, and stepped off the curb. yeah. it sucked.
    my neighbors were called by names i can’t repeat. they were looked down on…even though they were educated, brilliant, gifted, they were treated as though they were stupid, or second rate.
    they forced us to think and learn and use our heads and gave us names to look for in the library and encouraged us…

    then came what we kids called the “first annual Watts Insurrection” and the world shifted for everyone.almost overnight, it seemed,
    black men held their heads up and put some pride in their stride… after that horrible hot august. it was suddenly beautiful to be black. damn. ’bout time. actually,
    it was a relief for all of us…for a while.
    but even when the panthers came along, the black muslims did great things with the kids and the community, and bradley(hey, he was a big idol-a high ranking BLACK cop we all looked up to…) became mayor, it was still DWB and watch your step in westwood, stay outta glendale…

    I grew up in SouthCentral. it was unpleasant for us chicanos…but miserable when we went anywhere as a “mixed group” no matter how straight we looked, how low our profile, how proper our language, behavior, demeanor…we were judged. we were not really welcome.
    and we were not hallucinating or imagining things.

    years later, i read a book by a black man who said he whistled vivaldi when he found himself walking toward white men or women after dark on city streets. the baroque melodies made him non-threatening. i am a large latino, bearded, not pretty. even when i am in my tux, carrying my horn, people back up a bit. i whistle vivaldi, haydn, mozart…wow. smiles, nods.
    i feel as though i am in an eddie-murphy-disguised-as-a-gringo skit on SNL.
    my friends from Aus and Germany are shocked.we laugh. uneasily.
    yeah, race is a big deal here.

    if obama looked & spoke like step’n fetchit, his harvard ideas and words would get him nowhere.

    It wasn’t ’till i got to mombasa, to ghana, to mo’bay in jamaica that i saw people just act like people…good, bad, generous, nasty. i felt at home with these people who happened to be a lot darker than me in a way i have never felt home in my country when around a variety of colors. when i got back to NY-it was a slap in the face. back to reality…suddenly it was all horrible again. bleak. doggonit.
    hey- but my day lit up, 4am, my austrian friend said lets go eat…he lives down the road from the senegalese restaurant by the apollo.he greeted the crew by there in his horrible spanish.they dig his merengue dancing. ahhh-the smells of home cookin-beans & rice& plantain…
    we walked in and i felt home again…in our america. the real one, of open hearts and endless hopes, welcomes and arguments over whose beans & rice are better.

    sorry i took so long to say it. thank you america. let harry alone, he ain’t a racist, he’s an american pragmatist. go work on your accent.

  5. Marie says

    Obama was judged on the color of his skin; and so was Reid and every other politician. And whether they were bald, or short or fat or good looking; whether their suits fit well and whether they were male or female. How they spoke, what they said, if they fidgeted or could speak directly into the camera. Whether they could utter even inane thoughts with conviction, “You betcha!” Remember when it was thought that JFK couldn’t be elected because he was Catholic? We STILL haven’t elected a woman. Reid would have been a fool if he hadn’t discussed and evaluated whether the time was right and the candidate right to elect the first black president.

    If you think everyone wasn’t discussing race on both sides of the aisle, you’re nuts. Many of us really wanted to vote for Kucinich, but knew he was too short and not good looking enough to win. Obama was and remains a very moderate Democrat, not a progressive, as seen in his economic team. But I’d far rather see him in office than any Republican who ran. They don’t appear to believe in any social contract at all for working Americans, white, black or green.

    Harry Reid has many supporters in Nevada, despite the very libertarian constant I-Hate-Harry theme distributed daily in the LVRJ. Reid has done more to get green energy going than any other person in the country. He is battling for healthcare despite almost overwhelming odds and very conservative (I’d almost say immoral) Democrats who put their own prejudices before the wellbeing of the American people. Oh yes, they are only workers anyway. Obama and Reid are fighting the good fight. The right will do or say anything to undercut them. That’s all this brouhaha is about.

  6. Steve Lamb says

    I really don’t know if Reids comments are racist or not. The problem is that we have been presented with fragments of what clearly were parts of paragraphs. Without the rest of the paragraph and the context, I just don’t know. I believe that the President had a much better chance of being elected with light skin than he would have were he a medium shade of sienna or were he blue black.

    I think Reid is correct in saying that Obama doesn’t habitually speak in a dialect (Negro or any other) is a plus to his getting elected is accurate. It would be just as accurate to say “Moon Unit Zappa is running for Congress and she has dropped her “Valley Girl Dialect” this will help in her election.”

    These are statements that are neutral in their content. Negro is still the correct usage in language to describe people of African heritage. African-American is NOT an accurate descriptor for President Obama, as culturally his ancestors were not a part of the American past. His Daughters and wife are Culturally African-American, be he is not such a person. He is a American of African decent, but he is not an African-American. He is however, scientifically a Negro.

  7. says

    I think Reid was calling it the way he saw it. I did not find this insulting to Blacks, only acknowledging the fear White America has of Blacks (and many “Others”)in general. He probably would have been wiser to choose a different term than Negro dialect — I think he meant urban. Barack is light and uses the same vernacular as anyone with an education. As a result his presence and being was able to put White America (a general term I am using — no offense!) at ease, because he was more “like them.”

    • Sam Adams says

      Now, now! Let’s avoid the stereotypes! “White America”, indeed! Reminds me of an adult I knew when I was a kid. He sometimes used the term “nigger rich” to describe white people with a lot of money (he was not one of them). When his wife would chastise him, he would reply that it was a descriptive term and that he meant “no offense”.

  8. Desiree Jordan says

    The fact is Harry Reid SAID what ALL Americans THOUGHT when then Senator Barak Obama decided to run for President. I thought the same thing and I am BLACK….Does that make me a “RACIST” too? I consider him [Reid] BRAVE for uttering this statement because it SHOWS that he is at least COGNIZANT of the effect of RACE in American CULTURE overall, but SPECIFICALLY in American Politics. Personally, I prefer the Word “NEGRO” over African American, because it ENCOMPASSES BLACK PEOPLE OF ALL CULTURES. I am Jamaican and Cuban on my mother side and American Negro and WHITE on my father’s side….This does not make me “AFRICAN AMERICAN” per say… AND it does not VALIDATE my WHITE LINEAGE either. So I really dont see the Hoopla about what Reid said….. I see that as a DESPARATE PATHETIC PLOY of the RACIST REPUBLICAN RIGHT to derail HC Reform….What Idiots like Micheal Steele and all who cry FOUL needs to understand is that His VERY APPOINT ment as RNC Chair was an OVERT RACIST KNEE JERK REACTION to the ELECTION of AMERICA’s FIRST Mixed RACE President…..Now that is RACISM in it’s PUREST form!

  9. Anita Ghazarian says

    Harry Reid can be criticized for being out of touch in selecting his jargon to refer to Obama incorrectly as “Negro” instead of “African American”.

    Everything else was true and we all know it.

    The reality is that all of us ethnics from the time we get off the boat, train or plane, know that we must learn the language in earnest and drop the accent as soon as we possibly can in order to fit in and be counted as educated and employable. To speak standard English is not to deny or surrender anything about our heritage but to claim our place in the midst of a blended and unified community. We all know and chuckle at ethnic accents from the Chinese to the Russian and from the Arab to the Irish. We even laugh at the uneducated whites’ use of grammar. Why then are we surprised that the American public would be more likely to vote for someone without an accent than one with?

    As for skin color, it is time all of us acknowledge our tribal roots, such as our color, gender, religion or lack thereof and ethnicity but make them secondary to our shared humanity and community.

    Let the best person win. And he did.

    • Sam Adams says

      Practically speaking, in this country’s electoral system, only the “better” person wins. And it seems to be turning out that Obama’s administration may only tell us if he was, indeed, the “better” of two evils (which, itself, is an oxymoron, at best).

  10. Bill Gibbons says

    If the word “Negro” is so offensive, why do we still have the United Negro College Fund? I have spent the last decade visiting Cameroon, west Africa, where the word ‘negro’ is commonly used there – by the Africans themselves. Just walk around the capital city, Yaounde, and you will see businesses like the ‘Negro Art Gallery,’ or the ‘Negress Hair Saloon,’ etc. Then we have the ‘Book of Negroes’ by Lawrence Hill, a brown skinned writer. Indeed, up until the late 70’s, the word negro was commonly used in the USA and Canada. Now we all use the politically correct term “African American,” not that I ever remember a concensus being taken among all the black people in the USA to determine what colourful identity they should all adopt (no pun intended).

    The bottom line is, words like ‘negro’ can be used by negroes, but not by whites. It’s high time we stopped tip-toeing around these overly sensitive subjects lest we “offend” black people, and discuss them openly and sensibly as to just where this bone of contention called race is really leading us.

    • Sam Adams says

      Or the “National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People” (of which I am a supporter)? How unPC is that!

  11. Karen Wingard says

    Am I missing something? Reid’s remarks were made in 2008, and just now being noticed? Of course they were insensitive and used terms of reference that stem from our country’s racist history (I didn’t say racism is history, in the sense of over, but that our present continues to be influenced by what has gone before.) Regrettably, he was also probably describing a true state of affairs, that perceived intensity of “blackness” does matter to many people.

    As for the question of dialect, I refer anyone to GB Shaw’s Pygmalion (aka My Fair Lady). Of course it matters socially, as do many other non-essential personal characteristics.

  12. D Matthews says

    I still get concerned about what word to use with strangers
    In some places you say black,
    in others African American.
    but “Negro” went out with Peter Max posters.
    You would think a politician would be more hip.

    I understand the statement, in context, minus the years old word which was a “PC MISTAKE” was a simple political assessment,

    However,
    I wonder about the reporters intentions in reporting this private statement
    and those who are resurrecting it now.

    And perhaps that really should be the focus of conversation and concern.

  13. Sally Briz says

    This is all just ridiculous fodder for the Republicans. Reid simply stated facts. Excuse me but last I checked, Obama was a light skinned African American who speaks with no dialect – just standard English dialect and he was accepted as president which means Reid was correct. Hello!! Harry Reid said nothing wrong and as someone who has been referred to as “dark skinned Caucasian” with my Indian ancestry on my father’s side I guess I should just have a fit? Are we not allowed to describe people anymore? Like the redhaired girl with the southern drawl or the “Black Irish” guy with the Jersey dialect who looks Italian? Anyone who has a problem with accurate descriptions is retarded or a republican or both. Enough of this nonsense!

  14. dchogyoji says

    Negro means black in Spanish. It was probably first used by the Spanish to refer to Africans. When Africans were transported to America as slaves, the name negro stuck. In time it became English: “black”.

    But in the era of the “Greatest Generation” and Baby Boomers (Harry Reid) African Americans were referred to a negroes. This was a short hand – a nickname, if you will. It was not derrogotory. If a person wanted to demonize a negro, he would call him “nigger” Negro was a neutral word.

    There are nicknames for many races:

    Japaneses Americans – Nisei, Jap (derrogatory)

    Italian Americans – Wap (derrogatory)

    British – Brit

    Latin Americans – Latino, Wetback (derrogatory)

    Chinese – Chink (derrogatory)

    New Zealander – Kiwi

    Australan – Aussie

    Canadian – Canuck

    Etc.

    People of different races that grow up together think of skin color as no more a factor than the color of hair or eyes. They see what’s inside, not what’s outside.

    Regarding Harry Reid’s comment, I believe he was strictly speaking in the context of Barack Obama’s electability to the presidency. It was a comment regarding political strategy, not his personal opinion of Obama as a person or a member of a particular race.

  15. MySue says

    Let’s face it. America is still very racially segregated and separated from each other. Take it from me, the White mother of a bi-racial African American/ White son….How many times in his short life span from 1993 until now, has he or his sister, or myself heard comments along the lines of ” IS that your mother?” What does a first grader say to that? Of course it’s my mother, where’s yours? ” How can that be?” Or the more subtle- trying to kick him out of a public park gym, so the White men can play basketball, when he and his East Indian friend were in the gym first and no one else was supposed to be in the gym, and not until the Director came in and asked the Men to get out did the kids have any lick of respect shown to them….More examples….My son not being allowed in the Magnet program of the public LA school because the form said I should pick a race- and I apparently picked the wrong race for him to get in the program??? Really!!!! Didn’t we have Martin, and Malcolm, And for that matter Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman fighting against this racism???? Don’t we learn anything? Reid, like every other older generation White Man, is a 100% racist…I don’t care if he’s republican or Democrat. They can’t help it – that older generation is intolerant and scared of anyone who ain’t their color! This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone whose been around the block. Let’s just hope the future generations will grow up with less hatred and more love, so they don’t have to feel different because society says so. I work hard to face racial challenges everyday. Mostly by calling people out when they say horrible things! We all have to live in this world – let’s call a man a racist when we see it, and not beat around the Bush! He’s just that way and there ain’t much that’s gonna change it!

  16. Virginia Hoge says

    Of course politicians NEED to talk about Race! Race (and Racism) is a crucial issue in America today, far too long ignored!! The result of this is that racism in America has witnessed an alarming revival.

    We have a real chance here, with the Obama presidency, to again work towards racial equality, something our country desperately needs, to survive!

    Reid’s clumsy statement only illuminates how confused people remain about race and about each other. How many deeply-held biases remain, biases that need to be outed, challenged and cured!

    • June Stratton says

      It is difficult to talk about race, even in my own mixed race family. However, it is something that we need to discuss openly in order to educate ourselves and those around us. Senator Reid’s remarks have not been seen in context and the wording may have been clumsy, but due to his background and age, there may have been no other choices available to him. Now that the topic has been raised, let us all sit down and discuss it calmly as we can.

  17. says

    I was thinking that we should open up a discussion about skin shades and take a lesson from Brazil. With the infusion of many Latinos there has been a major shift in the color dynamics in this country.Many of the Latino immigrants are in fact part African.
    Also the nature of the Democratic Party endorsement process favors a candidate who is progressive , with good ties to labor, minority communities and other progressive groups and is winnable for a Black candidate.Jesse Jackson came close out performing all but the eventual candidate Dukakis. So a very good Black candidate in very much in the running in the presidential Democratic Party primary.
    People generally believe now that diversity is good.

  18. says

    It is neither wise nor necessary to take out one of the Presidents cricial supporters in the US senate for something said over a year and a half ago. Reid helped elect Obama and has supported his legislative agenda, as what may have been a politically fatal personal cause. Don’t shoot your friends, even when they piss you off, unless you wish to be alone.

    • says

      Typo. It should have been “cost” not “cuase.” Reid faces a very tough reelection campaign. It’s a safe bet that if he loses, he won’t be defeated by a post racial progressive. It will be a right wing, republican. If that happens, we’ll remember his mistakes rather fondly.

      I’m having a hard time remember why we were angry at Clinton since the economy was good, the budget was in surplus and we were at peace.

      Liberals shouldn’t start shooting at each other without a lot of thought.

  19. Sharon Toji says

    Harry Reid is close to my generation, and the “polite” and “PC” correct way to refer to Blacks/African Americans (take your pick on which is more “PC” now) was Negro. In my mother’s generation, it was “Colored.” These were all the “good” alternatives to the “N” word, and showed you were at least trying not to be a racist!

    Harry Reid was just telling it like it is: An African American speaking one of the various African American dialects would not have been elected. Barack Obama is the very opposite of the stereotypical “threatening” black bogeyman that white America has been taught to fear. And, the reference to skin color is not just a “white thing,” as any African American will tell you. When I lived in NYC on the edge of Harlem (early 1960s) and rode the bus, I sat and listened in on numerous conversations between African American women comparing men, and it was always by skin color, and the lighter the better. As a self-identified politically and socially liberal person who had adopted “mixed-race” children with varying skin tones, features and hair type, it shocked me at first to hear so much prejudice within the African American community.

    This was a statement of political reality, made by a politician who supported and supports Barack Obama, whose actions are not those of a racist. It is being reported for one reason only — to stir up trouble in the Democratic ranks and assure the defeat of Harry Reid, and the legislative agenda of Barack Obama. Certainly the President understands that. Can the rest of us act like intelligent adults and understand it as well?

    • Kyle D. says

      Negro was appropriate at one point but not any more and not for a very long time. Reid’s job is to stay politically nimble and current especially when it comes to understanding people– the chief job of a politician. His lack of knowledge here seemed glaring puts into question his ability to meet the needs of his current constituents of all generations. If he is frozen in time than maybe he is not fit for the job.

    • Kathryn Smith says

      Very well said. When did this happen to America? That we are SO careful not to offend anyone that we can’t communicate our feelings without having to apologie to someone. We need to all pull up our big boy/girl pants and not be so “thin skinned” … good grief!

  20. Kyle D. says

    I had two problems with Reid’s statement, the first is that, likely because the comments were presented out of context, his comments seemed shallow and kind of clueless. This was highlighted by (my second problem) the fact that Reid used the word “negro” which has been not in vogue for 40 years.

    While I believe he is correct that skin color and dialects associated with people of color, ethnicities associated with poverty, the south, or even those of some disempowered white women (think valley girl or new jersey girl accents) can give any job applicant (politicians included!) an additional hurdle to overcome– Reid didn’t do anything but state the obvious and he did so poorly.

  21. says

    “Reid’s remarks about Obama were revealed in “Game Change,” a book detailing the 2008 race by Time’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann.”

    Mark Halperin is a neocon. This man is wholly self-absorbed and unable to think critically. He is a fellow at a right-wing think tank where he wrote a screed about following the founding fathers. He then claimed that copyrights should last eternally, instead of the 7 years prescribed in the original legislation. *snort*

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/09/AR2010010902141.html?wpisrc=newsletter

    I told someone that this comment was found by some orc toiling deep in the bowels of the Mines of Moria. I was correct. They have no policy positions, so they rely on dishonesty and exaggeration to distract people from their moral bankruptcy.

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