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Following the State of the Union address, the annual speech where Presidents try to convince us we’re not fucked, Chris Matthews (political commentator for MSNBC) uttered the now infamous remark, “I forgot he was black.”

This was of course in reference to our Commander-in-Chief. He’s a black guy, in case you, like Chris Matthews, forgot.

Many have been struggling to interpret the meaning of Matthews’ statement. The general conclusion seems to be that he meant, light-heartedly, that Barack Obama is so articulate, one might forget his heritage. According to Harry Reid, Obama lacks that “Negro dialect,” and that is why most have presumed Matthews’ context to be racist.

This assumption is rested on the idea that being black is a disadvantage, a handicap to be overcome. I wonder, do any of the legions of black men forced to serve prison sentences for crimes they didn’t commit think that their skin color might have been a handicap when the verdict came down?

Chris Matthews insists that he meant to suggest Obama has helped our country to transcend racism, just by being a competent President who happens to be black. Well, half-black, a point made by Harry Reid ages ago, when he suggested Obama’s dilluted blackness made him more electable.

News flash: Being so touchy on the race issue doesn’t help to transcend it. The fact is, America will never fully transcend race, and we shouldn’t expect to. There’s nothing wrong with noticing someone is a different color than you. Sometimes I look to the sky and notice that not all of the clouds look the same. Some are jagged. Some are white. Some are gray. Some are black. But they’re all clouds. My noticing their differences doesn’t suggest anything other than the fact that I’m observant. There was no inherent preference.

To that extent, we are all racist.

If there was any deeper meaning to be found in Chris Matthews’ statement, I think it might just be even more innocent than he intended. “We are all created equal. It’s in the constitution. Finally, we have a President that actually makes that seem true.”

When Barack Obama was elected, I rejoiced. I felt a part of some massive accomplishment for America. We ended World War II, we were a key negotiator in the Treaty of Versaille, we overcame the most intricate terrorist attack in history, etc. Bah, we’ve bungled every one of our accomplishments.

I thought maybe this time would be different. I thought maybe we would come to the national realization that it’s okay to notice that someone is different than you.

It becomes not okay when you use that platform, that instinctive observance, for reasons that are not just. If Obama gained the Presidency simply because he was black, then that is wrong. If he lost it simply because he was black, then that is wrong. I choose to believe he was elected wisely, but for the wrong reasons. But I may be wrong, as many other white people have been. (Hitler, Napoleon, Christopher Columbus, et al.)

Am I racist? You bet I am. Is Chris Matthews racist? Undoubtedly. Does pointing out Matthews racist comment just to attach some unintentional meaning to it make you not racist? Not on your life.

We need to be okay with these things. We need to accept our human nature. They say we’re all pink in the middle and that we all bleed the same blood.

If Obama weren’t our first black President (after 232 years of white dudes), this wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

These white dudes had sex with interns.

Then they say things like this, and I grow confused about what they really mean. Looking for others to be racist makes you just as guilty of racism. I’m talking to you Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Peace and love…

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One Comment

  1. Nice editorial. I’m looking forward to following this.


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