Monday, January 18, 2010

At Least Reid Didn't Call Obama a Nappy-Headed Ho

© 2010 Leighann Lord

"Well you have some Black in you don't you?" The conversation had been going along rather harmlessly when out of nowhere the question of my ethnicity popped up. Much to my bewilderment, the last few years of my life have been marked by people assuming that I am biracial. I am not. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Is this part of Barack Obama's legacy? Will people assume that all smart, sexy, black folks have one white parent? Should I have taken offense?

When I informed my casual conversation partner that both my parents were Black, (brown to be exact) she seemed honestly perplexed. "With your light skin, green eyes, nice hair and freckles? Really?" Yes. Really. Historical miscegenation is funny like that, continually manifesting itself in the generational gene pool.

America has a hair trigger when it comes to race, perhaps because in the past actual triggers have been involved. Our spidey senses are fine tuned to slights, missteps or blatant insults. With attorneys, commentators, pundits and bloggers at the ready, the national conversation hasn't been this heated since the 60s.

When Senator Harry Reid was quoted in the book "Game Change" as privately saying America 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,’” our conversation turned into a shouting match.

I am surprised someone on the Senator's staff didn't clue him in: "Sir, the Darkies don't like it when you call them Negroes." If we are ever going to openly talk about race, or more correctly ethnicity, we have to know that unintentionally "in-artful" statements are going to be made. I, for one, am relieved that Senator Reid didn't call Obama "a nappy-headed ho."

The President, being the gracious man that he is, accepted the Honky's apology so its time to move on, right? Maybe not. The question remains, although the Senator's statement is offensive, is it true? Would a darker skinned, colloquially speaking Barack Obama have ascended to the presidency? Would he even have made it into the primary?
There's a time and a place for everything and America seems to prefer its dark skinned, thuggish looking, rough talking Negroes to be athletes and entertainers not politicians. Love of stereotypes seems to stop where policy making power starts.

It might be interesting to know how many people secretly wish that Obama would be more of a rough neck on foreign policy. Would Thug Life Diplomacy fare any better than the cowboy variety? Would our terrorism problem be over if the President personally threatened to roll up and bust a cap in Al Quaeda's ass? Could Lil' Kim convince Kim Jong Il that "All we want to do party, and buy everybody at the bar Bacardi?" Heady stuff. I think at the very least, Senator Reid's comments have opened the door to "Black in America 3." I wonder which Negro dialect they’ll use. I guess it’s time to dust off my Ebonics dictionary.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform Friday and Saturday, 1/22 & 23 at the Comedy Zone in Warwick, RI. Check out her other upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.


trentadad said...

U know the deal. the sentor was right . if our boy was dark no matter how wise he was he would have been pushed back. As it is being black is why they give him a hard time on the right. He's damned if he do he damned if he don't. All I know if a person is a real American they would be behind their Commander, The President.

Anonymous said...

Senator Harry Reid said what most Black folks say about themselves. It's like you can talk about your own family, but no one else can. I am not excusing his comments, but comments made public like this and addressing them as they go...IS progress in action. Also, let's not forget Jessie Jackson did come in 3rd in the primary race when he ran for president and he's not light-skinned.