Do Better Thursday: Politics & Prose

It was suppose to be simple this week…

There was low traffic on the “Doing It Wrong” radar… just a couple of blips…

So, the plan was to post up the State of the Union Address for those who didn’t get a chance to catch it yet… Follow that clip with one of Barack’s response to Bush’s State of the Union Address from 2007… and close out the political portion with Dr. Cornel West’s Note to Obama and boom! throw a couple videos of some other folks doing it right… done.

But no…

Soon after Barack delivered his 1st SOTU address, Chris Matthews stated “I forgot he was Black for an hour” and without examining the context Twitter runs wild with “WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN!?!” and “CHRIS MATTHEWS IS AN ASS!!!” or “WHAT TYPE OF SH!T IS THAT!?!”


*deep breath*

Maybe it was because we were all hyped off the notion that King Obama had just spoken to the nation that we were on HYPER alert… (that’s the H.oller Y.ell P.unish E.verything R.acist alert) …and possibly misread the intel received via text, tweet, status or the classic phone call that another old white man said something about our leader… and like yellow jackets when the queen is in distress we must attack with blind rage and fury… I mean… who could blame us… it’s the 1st time a black man has stood in front of Congress and delivered the SOTU as the Leader of the Free World…

Perhaps, we were still on edge after Harry Reid stated what we ALL were thinking as we cast our vote for #44… that the brother had a fighting chance because he was “light-skinned black man with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one”… maybe it was just too soon… too soon, Brother Matthews to say such a thing, at such a time…

We were too busy strutting… high-fiving… completely ignoring Obama’s suggestion of working with those across the aisle for the benefit of a greater tomorrow by bragging “take that you punk ass Republicans…” Yes, we were still doing our endzone dance when right as they were going to ask us what we were going to do next… and just before we could say, “Gonna go cash this stimulus check and then I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!!!” …the anchor blurted out…

“I was trying to think about who he was tonight. It’s interesting: he is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he’s an African American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is president of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard. A very subtle fact. It’s so hard to talk about. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound that way.”

We stopped the celebration… and we pounced.

Now before you ask, “what the hell else were we supposed to do!?!”, aside from the “post-racial” comment…

  • What exactly did he say that warranted a virtual lynching?
  • Is his argument not in-line with “one day live in a nation where (we) will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of (our) character”?
  • Do we not struggle each day to be evaluated on our work ethic opposed to being an ethnic at work?
  • Are our eyes so blinded by the centuries of struggle we are unable to believe the glimmer of light down the tunnel?
  • Is everything a white person says about our character a back-handed comment?
  • Have we suffered so much abuse that we reject the an offer of embrace?

Just because he said “I forgot he was black for an hour” doesn’t mean that we have to… never should we, never will we… What it does mean is that for about an hour, he saw beyond the color of his President, he saw the convictions of his President… and that is something I hope we all will do with one another… not just an hour at a time… but for a lifetime.

thank you for doing better,

– dre’ of

P.S. – the rest of the “Politics & Prose” post will be delivered later this evening… 🙂

UPDATE: Chris Matthews defends his point on Rachel Maddows show.

23 responses to “Do Better Thursday: Politics & Prose

  1. Great post sir…I practically feel your seething irritation with the responses to Chris Matthews very honest comments. It's really is a shame that we don't allow ourselves to be more honest without fear of reprisal. It reminds me of the outrage in DC when a white man referred to DC as niggardly (miserly). Black residents and co-workers vilified him almost instantly and ultimately it proved to be much ado about nothing. To answer the question posed above…perhaps we are not ready but often, unsettling comments and the commentary they elicit make us ready…I imagine only time will tell…

  2. i am inclined to agree with you that he does not deserve virtual lynching–i don't think he had bad intentions. but i disagree with your view of 'post racialism'.post racialism is not about colorblindness–there is no such thing as a colorless person. with color/race brings experiences and you should not have to strip a person of his color or cultural identity to see him for his character and capabilities. dr king was not talking about a world of colorless people, he was talking about a world where 'little black children and little white children' can be seen as equal in capabilities and potential. where color doesn't mean that you can't give an awe inspiring state of the union speech.does it really cause such cognitive dissonance that a black person could deliver this speech that it is easier to strip him of his color rather than acknowledging that he is black, and proudly so, and can deliver this speech? post racialism means that you acknowledge his race and see it as equal to any other, thereby not lowering standards or being any more shocked when a black man performs at an extraordinary level than when a white man does it. chris matthews is in the wrong bc he will probably *never* say 'i almost forgot he was white for a second' in the same context.saying 'i almost forgot he was black' means that you have to take something from him to give him credit. instead, acknowledge that he is black and that a black person can give this kind of speech and be this kind of leader.i don't want to be fit into a box–no matter how kind the label–if my color and culture can't fit in it with me. judging me by the content of my character means nothing if you have strip me of my cultural identity to do so. ignoring color is not the same thing as accepting it.a colorless people is not the goal. a society that doesn't set different standards and expectations based on color is.

  3. @there she goes…thank you for posting your comment and contributing to the dialogue…i think your comment expresses exactly what I believe we blindly placed on Matthews… if you take the line "i almost forgot he was black"… then yes, all the things you've noted are dead-on… however, the context of which he made that claim is not identical to the issues you were addressing…it was not saying… "wow, he spoke so well… that i thought he was one of us…"not at all…what he is saying… that the novelty (for lack of a better word) of having a black president appears to have resided… it wasn't the 1st black president of the united states talking… it was the PRESIDENT of the united states talking… in the same capacity that we don't say… irish american or catholic american presidents for those in the past… we simply say american president…Matthews… said himself, it was like an ephiphany… that in only 12 months time… we've from saying "Barack Obama, the 1st Black President, did such and such…" each time he breathed to, "Barack Obama the President of the United States addressed the people…" it is that he was applauding… Another note… his comment is more a reflection of the change in mindset of our people more than a comment on the merit of his speech… lastly…it's like this…if you go to wikipedia today… and search "Jackie Robinson" …it states… "1st african-american baseball player…" if you search "hank aaron" it states… "american baseball"…all Matthews is saying that is in a years time… Obama's managed to go from described as the 1st black this… to simply his job title… "President"…

  4. i guess we'll agree to disagree :)i'm still not sure why identifying him as black is taking away from also identifying him as president. to me it's not a qualifier–he is a black president, just as jackie robinson and hank aaron are black baseball players. it only becomes a problem when the word 'black' is used as some sort of qualifier or mitigator. in my opinion, he is black and i don't think it's a compliment to say that you 'forget' that. is both black and a great president. and i'm just not sure how this opinion brings into question whether we're ready for mlk's dream. . .i definitely am, ready for his blackness to be accepted as much and at the same time as his greatness as a president, the same way other presidents have been accepted as great and white at the same time.and while this is a great time in this country for all americans and all americans can be proud to have him as a president, it also holds additional special meaning for blacks bc he is black–that is something i'm not comfortable with someone 'forgetting'

  5. Chaia, by all means comment…@thereshegoes, our discourse won't be able to progress if we don't evaluate the "forgot he was black" line in the entire context…Are we going to completely ignore the companion to that statement?"I mean, it's something we don't even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he's an African American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is president of the United States and we've completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it"It is QUITE evident he recognizes that Obama is an "African American guy" and that "he is the president of the United States"… If we're going to solely focus on "I forgot he was Black for about an hour" then dispute that his selection of phrasing… b/c he could have said "For a moment there I completely forgot the wonderful achievement that he is the 1st Black president."Same sentiment… with little-to-no backlash…

  6. That's the thing dre, he was not saying that he forgot the achievement. In fact, that assumption makes no sense in the context of his comment. The fact that he even brought up race shows that a) he had not forgotten about it at all and b) he had actually fixated on it. Now you ask, why would he even be thinking about race? He thinks about it because he simply could believe that a black man could give such a speech–he had to "forget" he was black to give him due credit. @thereshegoes already went into this. White people don't have to be post-racial and no one has to "forget" that someone is white in order to give them credit. Matthews' comments are an underhanded compliment to Obama. He is saying that unlike all of the other black people I know, Obama is excellent. This is similar to the "compliment" we have all heard: "you're not like other black people." People like Matthews have to disassociate achieving blacks with other blacks because black is not associated with anything good. This is how deep racism is–people actually think it's a good thing if they don't think of you as black.

  7. *edit*Chaia… Come on, fam."He thinks about it because he simply could(n't) believe that a black man could give such a speech–he had to "forget" he was black to give him due credit."Ok, if this was David Duke, Rush, Glenn Beck or someone else with a history of bigotry…This is Chris "ILOVEOBAMA" Matthews… do you remember what he said when Obama was running for office?"I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."It's not because he was surprised that the Magic Negro could tell a tale…No.It's because he was moved by his speech. And once again… your comment, "The fact that he even brought up race shows that… he had not forgotten about it at all."Examines only the words "forgot that he was Black" and converts them into a personal (or group) attack…try this, translation:forgot = it didn't come to mindhe was black = all the hoopla we make of him being the 1st Black President…you're reading far too much in the "forgot" line… and not enouch in the subsequent ones… or defense on Rachel Maddows show… and even past statements on Barack…

  8. Just because Matthews loves Obama doesn't mean he is free of racism. His comments displayed that. Racism is deeply rooted in our American culture; it's pervasive and insidious. People often don't know the racist feelings and thoughts they harbor. This includes every single person (white, black and otherwise) who voted for Obama. Racism is so much more complicated than b/c Matthews is a liberal he can't possible be racist.

  9. i never said he didn't recognize that the president is black, to the contrary, you have to recognize it to forget it–but why are you trying to forget it?when i look at the president, his wife, his children, i don't ever forget that they're black–i don't want to.i don't look at his achievement and forget the wonder of it. i don't want to.i don't know many other black people who want to either–chris matthews, cannot justify that 'forgetting' one is black is something that white people may strive to do, but not black people. it is as if chris matthews forgetting he is black is akin to barack's having cleared some sort of hurdle to his achievement. and if you are saying this, then you are saying that chris matthews is the one who is not ready for mlk's dream.there is nothing good to be gained by claiming to forget someone's blackness while complimenting their achievement. as i said before, ignoring is not the same thing as accepting and mlk's dream contemplates the latter.therefore, if i'm understanding your argument correctly, the phrasing that chris matthews should have chosen is 'for a moment there, i completely embraced the idea that one can be black *and* president and the being the former is no handicap to the being the latter'–which does not hold the same sentiment as the statement he made.(let us not pretend we're not dealing with the context of barack's having provided an excellent, awe-inspiring, 'presidential sounding' speech–had the speech been awful and sub-par, i doubt chris matthews would have been moved to make these statements)further, the 'companion' and your alternate phrasing–that he forgot this black guy standing in front of all these white people giving a state of the union address was the president (the first black one at that)–are more like a separate statement. and is that statement really better? you really want to forget the achievement–you're really impressed by your ability to look at him and not realize what it means that he's standing there? saying 'you forgot he was black' is not the same, nor is it clarified by saying 'i forgot the man standing in front of these white people was the first black president'. they are companion statements only because one followed the other–not because evaluating them together provides either statement with additional context. one says 'i forgot he was black' the other says 'i forgot he was the president (and what that means)' and why he would want to forget either or seem to be impressed by his (which he wrongly generalized to 'our') capability and desire to do so is beyond me.

  10. *edit: they should really implement that option… or rather i should proofread my comments…*Chaia,Despite his liberal show… Matthews is quite conservative in his views… I've stated no connection that his liberal promotion equates to racial purity… Trust, I am one to speculate the word and actions of people… however, I do this by examining their past and current decisions… I don't see how someone can jump to "he's harboring racist thoughts" esp. when looking the statement in full AND his defense of the statement…I guess we'll have to just to let this one go…@thereshegoes…you've misconstrued my "translation"…'for a moment there, i completely embraced the idea that one can be black *and* president and the being the former is no handicap to the being the latter'…from the very beginning i've stated, he's NOT saying "look his blackness doesn't hamper his ability to speak coherently nor the ability to lead a nation…what I HAVE said, repeatedly…is Matthews was referring to the hoopla that we have ALL (white, black, asian, arab, yellow, Navi, etc) made of him being the 1st Black President isn't in the foreground of our thoughts when we hear him speak…now to this… "further, the 'companion' and your alternate phrasing–that he forgot this black guy standing in front of all these white people giving a state of the union address was the president (the first black one at that)–are more like a separate statement."it is not a seperate statement…it's pretty basic…if i make a broad statement, that may be left to an array of interpretations… then i transition with "i mean" to clue in the audience that the explanation of my statement is forthcoming… and finally… i explain in detail what i meant… and even come back later to explain further… certainly does not lend to "separate" statements… they are most certainly one and the same…of course he didn't forget he was black… at the root of it… since we seem to be fixated with the line… "forgot that he was black"… has more to do with Matthews regarding Black figuratively than literally… but such a notion isn't "racist".

  11. well are you talking about 'hoopla' or are you talking about 'forgetting about race' when you seem to imply that chris matthews is somehow more ready to embrace mlk jr's dream than those who would like to remember barack's race? because the dream wasn't about 'hoopla'it can't be both ways–either he was talking about race and you are patting him on the back for 'forgetting barack's race' or he was talking about hoopla. when he goes on to say 'the old tribalism, and old ethnicity' (are we to understand those to be figurative references to hoopla as well?) and you go on to say that for an hour he was able to look beyond race to the president's convictions –you are not consistently talking about hoopla and neither was he. i am not seeking to vilify chris matthews, as i said at the beginning, and it seems like you are defending him from accusations of his comment being racist or even race-based based on his prior obama-loving statements. but cleaning up his statement on rachel maddow is not the same as his original statement and his original statement–taken in whole was not about hoopla it was about obama somehow being 'post racial' and not black (ie no more 'old tribalism and ethnicity') based on this speech, without saying why it somehow would have been less effective if he had remembered he was black for that hour. and what are the implications now, now that the hour is over and barack is back to being black?

  12. hoopla = the pomp and circumstance surrounding Obama when he was elected the 1st black president of the united states…he was talking about the "hoopla"i used MLK's line to express that these are hints we are approaching a time when there isn't "hoopla" made everytime a black person does something for the 1st time… and it becomes the norm… not some rare occurance…he cleaned his statement up with his 1st statement… but folks were to transfixed on the line, i dare not repeat further b/c it's obviously too distracting, to understand… therefore he felt the need to clarify on Maddows show…"old tribalism and ethnicity" …you do realize white folks have old tribalism and ethnicities too… thus he was claiming hopefully we moved to a point that we don't use qualifiers… and we are "starting to see Obama as Obama. you know, as a President and not a Black President." (<—Whoopi Goldbergs interpretation of Matthews thoughts… of whom she says she knows…)

  13. it is a big deal that obama is the first black president. it's huge for all americans and there is nothing wrong with celebrating it. until there are a whole bunch of black presidents, i will celebrate each one. it is OK to take special pride in it–it's not celebrating a rare circumstance. it's celebrating an accomplishment in this country despite all of the BS we have to put up with as black people.

  14. ok. so it seems like the line is being drawn at those who want to see him as a black president and those who don't. i want to see him as a black president–we aren't yet at a time where we can trivialize black (or many other minority) firsts or even seconds and the significance of these achievements, and there are so many more to accomplish.i don't want black to be used as a 'qualifier' when used to describe him, but i do want it to be seen as part of his identity.

  15. Chaia…I dig… and celebrate it too… and each day at this here government building that my Black President wasn't all the wall… I let security know… they needed to "make that change"… until it happened…Also, as you now, made a t-shirt about it…but I won't waste energy calling out a man as "racist" or making "racist" remarks… when that wasn't what it was or even the intent…@thereshegoes…trust, I'm proud he's black… see my comments above…i don't even know him… but i love him…and believe you me… (that's one of those board statements… 😉 here comes my intent…)with a name like Barack Obama… no one's gonna forget he's Black… even if they say so figuratively…

  16. @thereshegoes…one last thing, lol…it just popped in my head…everyone's gonna see him as a black president…but let't not kid ourselves…there's a difference between how we view Chuck Cooper and how we view Michael Jordan…this cat is Jordan.

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