Wednesday, December 09, 2009

When Race is a Political Weapon

A symbolic racialized attack, even within the Black community, is a poisonous political weapon. This story by Arianna Huffington effectively demonstrates why the Call & Post's Aunt Jemima editorial cartoon is so insidious. Not so long ago Sharpe James deployed similar invective --crazy, highly racialized charges--against Cory Booker: taking money from the KKK, "collaborating with Jews", being a "faggot white boy," a "white republican," a "black trojan horse," and "errand boy Black politician ." Seriously, these are quotes from the ex-Mayor James and from some otherwise impressive people. 


Back in 2002, Huffington reported:


In elected office for 32 years, and feeling the heat of a surprisingly tight race, four-term mayor Sharpe James has leveled a variety of lunatic charges against his opponent, city councilman Cory Booker, accusing him of taking money from the KKK and the Taliban, collaborating with Jews to take over Newark, being a "faggot white boy" and (cover your ears, children) a Republican. What makes this mouth-foaming vitriol especially nutty is that Booker is an African-American, a Democrat and a Stanford and Yale Law School-educated Rhodes scholar, who, in case you're wondering, is straight and hasn't received a dime from David Duke or Mullah Omar.

The point and the problem is this -- this type of racial accusation is powerful if not confronted. It can be used to punish, stigmatize and potentially silence almost anyone, even sincere public officials with great records serving the community. 



What's more, this choice of rhetoric and this type of image doesn't just shame its intended target. It introduces poison into the community well and ultimately demeans and therefore damages us all. As a commenter on Jezebel.com said: "Internalized racism is still racism."


Read more

Arianna Huffington's Salon.com
piece "The madness of Newark's King James"



Join the Facebook Group condemning the Call & Post's Aunt Jemima editorial cartoon 

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