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Racism, alive and well
February 26, 2004 11:09 AM   Subscribe


 
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown shows what a racist she is. From the Miami Herald:

___

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown verbally attacked a top Bush administration official during a briefing on the Haiti crisis Wednesday, calling the President's policy on the beleaguered nation "racist" and his representatives "a bunch of white men."

Her outburst was directed at Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. Noriega, a Mexican-American, is the State Department's top official for Latin America.

...

Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants.

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.

___

This kind of behavior is completely unacceptable! Anyone with that kind of attitude should be removed from office. Period. At the very least, she should be censured. This wasn't some offhand remark or a tasteless joke that can be explained away. Even her spokesman's 'clarification' is ridiculous.

___

"I think it was an emotional response of her frustration with the administration," said David Simon, a spokesman for the Jacksonville Democrat. He noted that Brown, who is black, is "very passionate about Haiti."

___

Sorry, that doesn't forgive her remarks in the slightest. Completely reprehensible.
posted by Plunge at 11:11 AM on February 26, 2004


not to mention hilarious. "you white men all look alike!"
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

"come! join us, my little brown sugar muffin, for it is warm and cozy down here in the gutter!"
posted by quonsar at 11:16 AM on February 26, 2004


well, yeah....

quonsar, even when your comments annoy me, they usually make me laugh.
posted by Plunge at 11:21 AM on February 26, 2004


Here's a question, though. Are Mexicans a different race from 'white' people?

Is it the possible admixture of Native American 'ethnicity'?

Are people in Spain a different 'race' from, say, people in France?

This has always troubled me. Because all I see when I look at Spanish people are Europeans. Granted, they seem to be darker than other Europeans, sometimes, and maybe that's the Moorish influence, but nonetheless, is that a reason to give a people a whole new racial classification?

Race has always bothered me, as a concept. It's too nebulous. I've got an ancestor who was Cherokee but passed as a white woman, and basically abandoned her Cherokee 'ethnicity.' So, in her case, race was more about culture than about genetics.

But, yeah, what Mrs. Brown said was offensive. But maybe she did it on purpose, hoping that the publicity would bring attention to her charge that the Bush Administration is racist when it comes to policies regarding Haiti. No excuse, but I suspect that might have been her motivation.
posted by geekhorde at 11:34 AM on February 26, 2004


On most government forms, the categories are Caucasian (Hispanic) and Caucasian (Not Hispanic). For what it's worth. Which isn't much, admittedly.

Why the hell aren't we doing anything about Haiti? See the thread below, I guess.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2004


Race has always bothered me, as a concept.

That's because it doesn't really exist when you try to pin it down. If you go to different countries, the races are defined differently.
posted by callmejay at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2004


As a Mohawk myself, Yes and No,

I have a few standards as to what is or isn't "us" I admit racial Bias and xenophobia, freely, I have some issues, I know it I try to curb it, and succeed most times, but not always, so as a flawed human, let me answer.

Whites to 'us' are europeans minus the russians who treated us fairly well with the french as a whole, Blacks are visitors by proxy (brought under duress, although we remember the wars were black's looking for legal freedom were willing to engage in genocide to get 40 achers and a mule, even if it was OUR 40 achers, Latinos, For geographic purposes i remain in mainland US were mexican of spanish and Indian Mix, we have as a whole a great loathing for spain but not the mexicans or central Americans, the blood has mixed enough for it not to matter and the culture is signicantly differing from europe.

We (speaking as a culture here with the implied occasional apologist and fanatical) as a whole distrust Europe and those descended form them, to see why just look at how the Anglo_american portray 'us' Savage, noble or otherwise, lazy, stupid, dirty forever poor and ungratefully of all the 'whites' have done for us....

So I can see her anger and she definitely seems racist, but I suspect she saw something in what they said too, what sparkled her outburst, what did they saw or do?

Latinos America for all its celebration and culture has NOT openly welcomed Haiti, or the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. has done little more,. For Cuba we risk WWIII for Haiti 50 marines...
posted by Elim at 11:53 AM on February 26, 2004


"It simply mystifies me how President Bush, a president who was selected by the Supreme Court under more than questionable circumstances (in my district alone 27,000 votes were thrown out), is telling another country that their elections were not fair and that they are therefore undeserving of aid or international recognition," Brown said.

"That kind of attitude" ? You mean intolerant of the intolerable? Good for her.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2004


I find race is often an arbritrary classification used to create separation between two peoples.
posted by pedantic at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2004


Well, Clinton deserves at least a firm talking-to about Rwanda, or does he get a pass because of the color of his skin? No, really.

You have to keep juggling eyeglasses just to keep up with all the fun. Woe be to the non-black who says the exact same thing Corrine Brown said, because the hate-crime thought police gestapo will machine-gun you with love and happiness, and trounce exultantly upon your grave with hobnailed boots.
posted by hama7 at 12:01 PM on February 26, 2004


also - she called Noriega a 'white man' while obviously he is not. I doubt that she was temporarily struck dumb by her blinding fury and in the heat of it all mistook him for an actual white man.

I gleaned from her comments a general frustration with 'the man' who is traditionally an old fat rich white guy. Frankly, I sympathize.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 12:01 PM on February 26, 2004


Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants.

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.
How odd that she cries racism, then counters with a racist remark. Has she been reading MeFi?
posted by antifreez_ at 12:02 PM on February 26, 2004


Yes a simple equation Us, vs Them. Race just helps in the division. Problem is when Them actually did attack Us, what then? American still has deep scars.. The culture as a whole fails to account for that when something like this or a neonazi march happens, or a celibration of white pride or the anti columbus day marches.... enough poopooing it she was wrong, and the decision to mess with Haiti's political issues was wrong-er... Lets focus on the big ppicture,
less we get distracted from a new war right next door
posted by Elim at 12:04 PM on February 26, 2004


I find race is often an arbritrary classification used to create separation between two peoples.

Ding! Ding!

Don't they have a home test for race yet? There should be a little stick you pee on, and then it tells you which one of these assuredly valid and by no means socially constructed taxonomical categories you fit in.

on preview:
hama7:
Thanks for the Clinton angle. Let's impeach that bastard!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:05 PM on February 26, 2004


Wait a moment? "I deeply resent being ... and branded a white man" Huh?
Can't blame him, so would I.....
posted by Elim at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2004


You mean intolerant of the intolerable? Good for her.

She probably can't stand herself.

It is one thing to disagree with someone. It is enitrely another to use the disagreement to justify poor behavior directed towards someone else.
posted by pedantic at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2004


Have you seen his picture? Google it. He looks like he could be Italian or Greek or from the South of France. He basically looks Mediterranean.

Of course, the name Noriega should have said something to her.

And yes, obviously, race is a cultural construct. As is almost everything else.
posted by geekhorde at 12:09 PM on February 26, 2004


Wait a moment? "I deeply resent being ... and branded a white man" Huh?
Can't blame him, so would I.....


As a Norwegian-German-Polish-French-Dutch-American, I resent being branded a white man as well.
posted by pedantic at 12:10 PM on February 26, 2004


race is a cultural construct.

Actually it's not. Racial Reality is a good place to start.
posted by hama7 at 12:15 PM on February 26, 2004


Or here, rather.
posted by hama7 at 12:18 PM on February 26, 2004


Sorry, it fits, I dont make the rules....
Whiteness as Seen by People of Color

WHITE RACE: Dictionary Entry and Meaning
posted by Elim at 12:19 PM on February 26, 2004


See - It's black people who are the racists! George Bush and the republican party are the uniters!

I refer to the republicans as the "white boy party" all the time. Am I racist, too?
posted by 2sheets at 12:42 PM on February 26, 2004


hama7, that link is absolutely hilarious! Thanks!
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2004


See - It's black people who are the racists!

Yup. And white folks. and brown, and yellow and all the rest. Every race, color and creed. People who try to deny or make excuses based on their political sympathies are part of the barrier to an honest national discussion of racial questions.
posted by jonmc at 12:55 PM on February 26, 2004


hama7-
How does an amateur anthropological survey site (with the disclaimer that teha uthor holds no 'special' credentials in any related field) prove the validity of taxonomic categories that are undefined?

I know that everytime I say this, poeple tell me I'm crazy, but race is nonsense. Antiscience. Gobbledegook, as they say. We are supposed to accept the unending truth of these categories, but no one can even tell you what the categories are or how science has distinguished them. Anyone who disagrees can make me shut up foever by simply providing me with the definition of a black person. My friend Jada doesn't know if she's caucasoid or negroid. Is there a specialist someone could direct me to could give her the proper testing so that she can know whether to listen to hip-hop or bluegrass?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:56 PM on February 26, 2004


Holy cow, hama7! Get Miguel on the phone; those Portugese women are fine.
posted by trharlan at 12:56 PM on February 26, 2004


We cannot take this lying down!

We must rid the US Gov't of this fascist "Corrine Brown" character and prevent more hate crimes and propogation of the neocon agenda of...




---wait, what?

She's a Democrat?

Oh.


I mean, uh, power to the people! You know, if you think about it her embarassingly myopic wrong-headed racist comments are kind of awesome! What a righteous Democratic heart she has! My sympathies go out to her.
posted by dhoyt at 1:07 PM on February 26, 2004


For the record, I hope Snoop AND Mr. T step in for a swing at Corrine Brown.
posted by mcgraw at 1:07 PM on February 26, 2004


I gleaned from her comments a general frustration with 'the man' who is traditionally an old fat rich white guy. Frankly, I sympathize.

I refer to the republicans as the "white boy party" all the time. Am I racist, too?

And I often express my frustration with conservatives in power with phrases "old rich white men", "whitey", and "damn crackers", despite my own personal paleness of skin color. So I think you are both right in that she meant "white" as more of a political thing than as a specifically race-related remark. I can also identify with the level of frustration one can reach when trying to plead what you truly feel is a just cause to those who seem to ignore it for no good reason.

I also think when she said "You all look alike to me" she was probably speaking more towards their similarities of politics and views on the issue than how they actually physically looked.

However, I don't think her statements were very well advised and it's true, I would be irked if someone dismissed a racially-mixed group of people as a "bunch of blacks" because of their political view and likely pissed if the follow up was "You all look alike".

I think she should issue the standard "I made a racist remark" apology that all the crackers have to issue when they say similarly idiotic (although arguably more dangerous) things.
posted by jennyb at 1:08 PM on February 26, 2004


Many of you seem to have just heard about Noriega. He is Bush's henchman fro Latin America affairs including Cuba, and in that he is as "white" as Powell. That's probably what Corina meant when she said "you all look alike to me": no matter the color of your skin, if you are into the "Stupid White Men" government, a white man you are.
posted by nkyad at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2004


willing to engage in genocide to get 40 achers and a mule

achers everywhere, and not an advil to be found.
posted by quonsar at 1:15 PM on February 26, 2004


I gleaned from her comments a general frustration with 'the man' who is traditionally an old fat rich white guy. Frankly, I sympathize.

So, let me follow this logic. If an urban cop expresses a general frustration with gang members (traditionally young black and hispanic men) by saying "They're just a bunch of black men and they all look alike to me," that would be OK too, right?

Quite frankly, I believe people should be allowed to say whatever the hell they want as long as they have the guts to stand by their statements, but what I find interesting is how many white folks here are tripping over themselves to rationalize her statements (especially since if the tables were turned, they'd be the first to demand her head). Self-abasement is as unbecoming in white people as it is in anyone else. Not to mention overlooking stupidity because of political sympathies.
posted by jonmc at 1:20 PM on February 26, 2004


but what I find interesting is how many white folks here are tripping over themselves to rationalize her statements (especially since if the tables were turned, they'd be the first to demand her head). Self-abasement is as unbecoming in white people as it is in anyone else.

Yeah, everything she said was stupid, and I don't care to defend it all. But that being said, I don't think it is incumbent upon white folks to be outraged (or even give a shit) about 'reverse racism' or about minorities making 'racist' remarks. Quite simply, when someone tells me they hate white people, it may reveal their own sillinesses, but it does nothing to evoke real persecution or to remind me of a personal history of disenfranchisement based on my whiteness. It's not self-abasing to be unconcerned with one's membership in the 'white race.'
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:26 PM on February 26, 2004


He is Bush's henchman fro Latin America affairs including Cuba, and in that he is as "white" as Powell. That's probably what Corina meant when she said "you all look alike to me": no matter the color of your skin, if you are into the "Stupid White Men" government, a white man you are.

Right. Because blacks (Colin Powell/Condi Rice) and Hispanics (Roger Noriega) shouldn't have the right of political self-determination. If they don't subscribe to the preferred political ideology, they can be dismissed as "house slaves" (to use Harry Belafonte's phrase) to "stupid white men."

Sometimes I can't believe such shitty, corrupted logic gets spewed by such supposedly smart people.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:32 PM on February 26, 2004


It's a shame that she used such, shall I say, ignorant statements. Now her point, which is correct - the White House is suspiciously apathetic toward Haiti, is now drown out by the discussion of racism, what is race and who is racist. What she said was wrong, even if what she was trying to say is right, shame.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:33 PM on February 26, 2004


It's not self-abasing to be unconcerned with one's membership in the 'white race.'

I'd argue that depends on the situation. Hypothetically, if you were a white guy dating a black woman and a black guy said "Leave our women alone, white boy!" are you saying that wouldn't piss you off?

I'll use the Rodney King/Reginald Denny debacle as an example. Black motorist beaten by white cops. Black citizens justifiably angry. Court system lets cops off. Black citizens justifiably even angrier. Riots erupt. White trucker pulled from truck and beaten almost to death, because he was white in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obviously the King case was the product of long-standing racism in the LAPD but that didn't diminish my rage one bit at Denny's beating.

But when the perpetrators were brought to trial they recieved light sentences. People justified this mainly, I believe out of misplaced guilt about racism. This is what I mean by self-abasement: the idea that it was all understandable and thus somehow OK. This is especially curious coming from white people since it seems like some sort of weird aopologia.

I don't like racial hatred from white folks and I'll call someone out on it any time. I also realize that this woman's comments are a fart in the wind, but I'm not gonna call it anything but what it is.
posted by jonmc at 1:39 PM on February 26, 2004


Her apology:

"It was a heated exchange. I apologize," Brown told Channel 4's Jim Piggott Thursday morning. "It wasn't meant to be a racist comment. I was speaking of the delegation that came over from the State Department. They brought no females; no one of color came over in that group. Based on the presentations, it was totally insensitive to the government of Haiti."

I'm sure Haiti is quite concerned with the makeup of our delegation right now. Silly woman.
posted by pedantic at 1:51 PM on February 26, 2004


"It wasn't meant to be a racist comment. I was speaking of the delegation that came over from the State Department. They brought no females; no one of color came over in that group."

Oh, I get it now. She wasn't being racist -- she was just mad that there were so many white people.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:00 PM on February 26, 2004


From now on when I say nigger I mean poor people of any skin-tone who dwell in the inner-city.
posted by Mick at 2:18 PM on February 26, 2004


Just as an aside, I've stopped being amused by conservatives hell bent on proving liberals are racists. Sometimes it's done for the merely political capital, sometimes it's done to excuse their own racism, but it's disengenious either way. I don't mean to call anyone here a racist, (I think at MeFi it's usually the former) it's just a dynamic I keep seeing and, like I said, I'm no longer amused by it.

Mick, Haha ha. That was almost funny.
*rolls eyes*
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:31 PM on February 26, 2004


but what I find interesting is how many white folks here are tripping over themselves to rationalize her statements (especially since if the tables were turned, they'd be the first to demand her head).

jonmc: Similar backpeddling, contortionism and rationalizing happened after this questionably racist comment was made by Hillary Clinton last month. What a hilarious thread that was.

Just as an aside, I've stopped being amused by conservatives hell bent on proving liberals are racists. Sometimes it's done for the merely political capital, sometimes it's done to excuse their own racism, but it's disengenious either way.

**Groan** You realize, of course, that if you wrote that again but switched the words "liberal" and "conservative" it'd be no less true, right? Let's not pretend conservatives corner the market on this kind of behavior.
posted by dhoyt at 2:41 PM on February 26, 2004


dhoyt: It's my opinion that, generally, racial bias runs stronger in certain conservatives. Yet, whenever a liberal makes any mention of race in any way, these same conservatives jump up and down screaming racism. Ann Coulter does this so consistently it's positively grating. I first became sensitive to this use of language in terms of affirmative action debates. The conservatives call AA "racist" which is one of the most cynical misappropriations of a word I've ever experienced. I realize I'm drawing a broad picture and that posters here aren't racist. I also realize that Mrs Browns statements were stupid and irresponsible, but that doesn't excuse the Bush Administration's treatment of Haiti, or anyone's use of certain racial epithets in a MeFi thread.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:04 PM on February 26, 2004


Many of you seem to have just heard about Noriega. He is Bush's henchman fro Latin America affairs including Cuba, and in that he is as "white" as Powell. That's probably what Corina meant when she said "you all look alike to me": no matter the color of your skin, if you are into the "Stupid White Men" government, a white man you are.

You see, white people walk like this, and black people walk like this.
posted by Snyder at 4:35 PM on February 26, 2004


Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants.

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.


I dunno.

Noriega is about as much a honkey as Condi, far as I can tell. Which is to say, you can be soulless regardless of the color of your skin.

This is about inclusion, people!

Her apology is justified; it reminds me of that photo of Bush, Rumsfeld, and all the other old white guys in suit getting together to sign the anti-abortion bill a few months back. This is the usual powers-that-be getting together to decide the fate of Haiti without bothering to ask any Hatians what should be done, or how to make it a better place.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:54 PM on February 26, 2004


Those of us from Jacksonville know not to pay too much attention to Corrine Brown.
posted by oaf at 6:19 PM on February 26, 2004


Perhaps the incident will have the beneficial effect of dispelling the popular myth that you have to be white to be racist. "People are the same all over", as they saying goes.

That aside, Ms. Brown seems like quite the brain donor.
posted by clevershark at 7:10 PM on February 26, 2004


Damn ign'ant. 'Sall I got to say.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 8:17 PM on February 26, 2004


The conservatives call AA "racist" which is one of the most cynical misappropriations of a word I've ever experienced.

From dictionary.com:

Racism (n.) 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race...
Discrimination (n.) 3. Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit...

The "misappropriation" may be cynical, to you, but do you deny its accuracy?
posted by trharlan at 11:57 PM on February 26, 2004


Who gives a rat's ass what she meant by using "white" as an epithet? "No, I didn't mean the race itself, I meant the stereotype associated with the race!" Feh. Apologists.

She's got a reason, as do we all, for being angry with the Bush administration's treatment of Haiti. Hell, for all we know, it could very well be a racist motivation. But her handling of the situation was clumsy. And this, however, is inexcusable:

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.

It's one of the "classic" racist utterances - even if she did intend to refer to the fact that, by throwing his hat in with the Bush administration, Noriega had become one of their ilk, a collection of short-sighted robber barons, this was a rather poor way of explaining it.

I don't care how it's explained away, I believe that this was a racist statement.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:01 AM on February 27, 2004


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