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July 25, 2004 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Blackwashing --So I tuned into C-SPAN with interest to hear what a leading voice in the black conservative movement had to say. But then a funny thing happened: the African-American spokesperson for Project 21 caught a flat on the way to the studio, and the group's director had to fill in. And he was white. CSPAN video here (real)--bizarre
posted by amberglow (63 comments total)

 
That's absolute A-grade classic.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2004


Oh, poor guy. He seems quite embarassed and sincere.
posted by reklaw at 12:26 PM on July 25, 2004


And he was white.

So what? He gave a very informative interview.
posted by hama7 at 12:34 PM on July 25, 2004


maybe he's south african-american
posted by mr.marx at 12:40 PM on July 25, 2004


So what? He gave a very informative interview.

You know, not feeling the need to fight _every_ battle might help your credibility just a touch.

hee.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2004


That particular horse has long since fled the barn, Space Coyote, there's no point in suggesting a lock on the door at this time.
posted by Zonker at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2004


zonker: I'm just trying to be helpful is all ;)
posted by Space Coyote at 1:03 PM on July 25, 2004


Maybe if he had just gone in blackface...
posted by owillis at 1:11 PM on July 25, 2004


You guys are judging someone based on the color of their skin, are you?
posted by Mick at 1:11 PM on July 25, 2004


hama7: Clearly, he's less credible because of his race and anyone not agreeing with this is a racist.
posted by spazzm at 1:12 PM on July 25, 2004


Maybe it's this guy?
posted by Space Coyote at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2004


spazzm:

No, but it's just as funny if the group's director had shown up and been a black liberal. Get it?
posted by Ptrin at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2004


You guys are judging someone based on the color of their skin, are you?

No, people are merely observing that an organization which purports to elucidate the perspective of conservative African- Americans is run by honkees.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:19 PM on July 25, 2004


Please, white people everywhere, stop using terms like "whitey" and "honkees."

It impresses no one and self-flagellation is unbecoming in anyone.
posted by jonmc at 1:21 PM on July 25, 2004


Yes Please use the much prefered forms "Cracker" and "Redneck" or "Snoball" if you will.
posted by Elim at 1:27 PM on July 25, 2004


Oh, jonmc, unclentch. I didn't mean to say 'honkee'. I think I was going for 'bleach-blood'.

It's called 'humor'
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2004


Whatever, Elim.

But someone who feels the need to apologize for something beyond their control, like what color they are, is not someone I trust.
posted by jonmc at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2004


Oh, jonmc, unclentch. I didn't mean to say 'honkee'. I think I was going for 'bleach-blood'.

Humor or not, it's symptomatic of the Guilty White Liberal syndrome, which is a problem. It's hard to respect people plagued with self-hatred. NTM, the fact that it's usually a cover for people who deep down wanna play Great White Savior.
posted by jonmc at 1:35 PM on July 25, 2004


Skin color does not matter. IDEAS and BELIEFS matter. Haranguing this guy for being white is just pathetic.

And as far as the funding issue -- it's a non-story.
posted by davidmsc at 1:39 PM on July 25, 2004


Shut up, crackerjack!
posted by The God Complex at 1:39 PM on July 25, 2004


Skin color does not matter. IDEAS and BELIEFS matter. Haranguing this guy for being white is just pathetic.

And as far as the funding issue -- it's a non-story.


If skin color didn't matter, why is the group set up for Conservative African-Americans, and not just Conservatives? Skin color mattered to the folks that started this group, and that's where the funding comes in--if you follow the money trail of this group, you see it's a sham. The director being white is just icing on the cake--and hysterical.
posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on July 25, 2004


jonmc, don't confuse your opinion with fact. You have absolutely no idea what's in the mind of people who use those words -- you have an opinion that sounds plausible to you and you're using it to hit people over the head with it because it pleases you to do so. If you wish to berate people, try to do so using demonstratable fact, not just something you thought of and decided it must be true.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:48 PM on July 25, 2004


jonmc, don't confuse your opinion with fact. You have absolutely no idea what's in the mind of people who use those words --

What other impression am I supposed to get, George?

If a black person said, "I moved out of this neighborhood to get away from the n-----s," people would probably peg him as a self-hating wanna-be. And they'd probably be right.

"honkee" and "cracker" coming from a black person I can deal with because they're the ones on the recieving end of racism with the right to get pissed. Coming from white people it smacks of "Look, I hate white people, too! Aren't I cool?"
posted by jonmc at 1:55 PM on July 25, 2004


jonmc, don't confuse your opinion with fact. You have absolutely no idea what's in the mind of people who use those words --

Right.

And I'm sure you'd say the same thing of people who say "nigger," "spic," and "kike." That we don't know what's really in their heads. No, you'd be perfectly comfortable writing them off as racists and you'd be right.

Taking logical leaps based on experience can be a good thing even when it's ideologically inconvenient.
posted by jonmc at 2:05 PM on July 25, 2004


Your second post doesn't hold up when the terms are used by people who are entitled to them (as I'm guessing elwoodwiles is entitled to "honky"). I've heard two of those three terms you describe (and equivalents to the third) used by people who might normally expect it to be used of them. It's their choice; you can quarrel with them but thankfully you don't rule them.

I know a paraplegic who uses "gimp", and if you give him any crap about it he will tear your head off. Trust me, he doesn't loathe himself in the slightest. It's his way of aggressively tearing the ground out from under anyone who might use the term of him -- he co-opts the term him
self and will cheerfully spit it in your face.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:14 PM on July 25, 2004


The difference is this. Your freind uses "gimp" to empower himself. White people using "honkee" seem to be using it to dump on other white people and either abase themselves or somehow claim that they are "different," while still not saying or doing anything of substance.
posted by jonmc at 2:18 PM on July 25, 2004


Look at the comment in question:

No, people are merely observing that an organization which purports to elucidate the perspective of conservative African- Americans is run by honkees.

Your freind is turning a derogatory term on it's head to say "Yeah, I'm a gimp deal with it," thus representing himself. elwoodwiles' post is applying "honkee" to others thereby passing judgement on them and simultaneously claiming himself as some kind of "exception."
posted by jonmc at 2:23 PM on July 25, 2004


Damn honkees, always trying to prove the unprovable.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:24 PM on July 25, 2004


Back on topic, Franken's "Lying Liars" has a hilarious take on these organizations -- white-run, white-funded, and without a single black person in a top position or indeed any significant position except when the cameras are running, which purport to be "Black Conservative" organizations. Al concludes that the leading black conservative in one of these groups is, somehow, Sean Hannity. Unfortunately my copy's back at the library. Anyone got the passage handy? It doesn't seem to be quoted anywhere Google can find it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:36 PM on July 25, 2004


jonmc--

Seriously man, grow a sense of humor. I think you've taken one hermeunetics class too many -- this is the dour, everything-too-seriously attitude that gives liberalism a bad name. But, fine. Lets deconstruct (and almost by definition, kill) the joke:

No, people are merely observing that an organization which purports to elucidate the perspective of conservative African- Americans is run by honkees.

Do you notice something about every single word in that sentence, save the last one? See how they're all rather ... formal register? Multisyllabic? "Snooty"? You would expect that the sentence would end in such a way...but, it doesn't.

Honkees. They really don't belong here, now do they?

This is, fundamentally, how humor works -- surprise, and someone gets mocked. Regarding who gets mocked, Western society has mostly accepted the Richard Pryor exception: You're always allowed to make fun of your own kind. You don't have to accept the exception. You can see every joke as the biting attack it actually is, at best misguided and at worst self-hating. You can imagine a utopia where we're all at peace, never hurting eachother or disrespecting ourselves.

But, to borrow a phrase from Emma Goldman, if I can't laugh, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
posted by effugas at 2:49 PM on July 25, 2004


I'm proud to be a honkey.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:52 PM on July 25, 2004


jonmc, I see your point, yet you make a few leaps in assigning me the role of "self-hating." I understand your outrage, but dropping it in my lap because I happened to crack wise with the word 'honkee' without checking to make sure it didn't offend anyone's sensitivities. Really, I was only trying to annoy mick - annoying you was just collateral damage. I don't see myself as any kind of cooler then thou "exception." I like you, but your wasting your outrage on something you've over-interpeted in the wrong direction. So, in closing: Whatever, dude.....

BTW, I've never heard anyone use the word 'honkee' in a serious manner.

on preview: thank you effugas
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:54 PM on July 25, 2004


Did anyone actually watch the video? One of his first statements was that he was an "employee" of the organization, who worked for African-Americans. Are you shocked by the notion of a white-honkey-type-person working for black people?
Or should organization that espouse race-oriented ideas, like the NAACP, only allow people of their color to work for them, like the NAACP?
Come to think of it, the NAACP used to be multi-racial, back in the 1940s, until they kicked all of the white people out. Wouldn't it be scandalous for them to hire a white-honkey-type-person as a janitor or a secretary or something?

But they would never hire a white person to work for them. They believe in racial equality. Unlike black conservatives who apparently are opposed to it enough to hire white-honkey-type-persons.
posted by kablam at 2:55 PM on July 25, 2004


but not dropping it in my.....

Preview is my friend
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:56 PM on July 25, 2004


He's not working for black people, kablam--he was installed by the white people that created and funded this group. And he's the director, not a spokesperson--the black people work for him.
posted by amberglow at 2:58 PM on July 25, 2004


Kablam: That all depends on what you think a "director" does. I'm familiar enough with, shall we say, "specialty organizations", to know that they do generaly care who "works for them" -- i.e., controls their cash, makes their operational decisions, etc.

Which is to say, something being a "director" means that you have an ideological role, and sometimes it means you have an administrative role. Either way, it would be kind of interesting if you discovered that the orgs on one side had white "directors", and the orgs on the other had black "directors".

Until someone can put numbers -- or at least, a lot of tokens [sic] -- to it, this is all still wanking in the wind.
posted by lodurr at 3:02 PM on July 25, 2004


effugas, if your familiar at all with my contributions here at metafilter, you'd know that there's probably not a less "the dour, everything-too-seriously" guy here than me. Not to mention a less utopian person. One of my personal role models as a writer is Jim Goad for god sake.

I just see a lot of weird contradictions represented in that comment is all and I took my whack at tearing it apart.


On preview: fair enough. I've respected your work here too and I did react a tad harshly. I was more seizing an opportunity to expound on some of the weird linguistic double-binds pwople back themselves into and the weird dance that racial politics has become. But I dragged you into it and I'm sorry for that.

BTW, I've never heard anyone use the word 'honkee' in a serious manner.

Me either. But it was more popular back in the '60's. "Peckerwood" and "white boy" I've heard with a straight face prom both whites and non-whites. I've known plenty of people (including family members) who were the last whites left in "changing" neighborhoods (and vice versa) or who grew up in areas where open racial divisions played apart in the daily street lives on both sides. From their stories, it seemed that the whole semantic game became much more concrete and complex.
posted by jonmc at 3:02 PM on July 25, 2004


Come to think of it, the NAACP used to be multi-racial, back in the 1940s, until they kicked all of the white people out. Wouldn't it be scandalous for them to hire a white-honkey-type-person as a janitor or a secretary or something?

Your thinking of the SNCC and that was in the 60's.
posted by jonmc at 3:08 PM on July 25, 2004


The director being white is just icing on the cake--and hysterical.

I don't think it's all that funny. There are a vast majority of conservatives who are insulted by being "represented" in the mainstream media by the loony likes of Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, as if the only representative spokesperson for the entirety of the population of black Americans must inevitably be a dishonest race-baiting liberal hustler. There's a good reason that Bush wisely opted out of addressing the rat's nest that is the NAACP (which was jointly founded by, and still contains to this day a good many white people - "Hysterical"?), and instead chose to address the Urban League.

As mentioned above by davidmsc: ideas matter, not skin color. The interview was a great success.
posted by hama7 at 3:23 PM on July 25, 2004


Man, I mangled the living hey out of my native language there, I'm glad it made any sort of sense. You're absolutly right that the "whole semantic game became much more ..... complex" but I'd say less concrete. The use of langauge to differentiate racial/ethnic/cultural groups goes back as far as history, but in American politics words have been reassigned and encoded with multiple, often contradictory, meanings depending on the context.

Right wing groups create these organizations in order to create the appearence of inclusiveness and to exploit certain words and concepts by contriving the context in which they are being used.

your thinking of sncc....
Good catch.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:23 PM on July 25, 2004


From NAACP timeline:

1909
On February 12th The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded by a multiracial group of activists, who answered "The Call." They initially called themselves the National Negro Committee.

FOUNDERS: Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villiard, William English Walling and led the "Call" to renew the struggle for civil and political liberty.


Interesting. The NAACP was founded by a group of people from a variety of racial and religious backgrounds. Well, I've learned something today.
posted by gwint at 3:30 PM on July 25, 2004


Yet, Bush was only tepidly received at the Urban League, because conservative or liberal he just isn't popular or even considered legitimate (check the polls) by the majority of african-americans (something to do with craptacular policies or some such evildoer-related program activities).
posted by owillis at 3:31 PM on July 25, 2004


I think he says the sheriff's getting nearer.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:57 PM on July 25, 2004


I shot the sheriff, sarge. But watch out for that devious deputy.
posted by jonmc at 4:04 PM on July 25, 2004


jonmc: you might do some fact checking too. I *know* that the NAACP kicked out the white people who were in it in the 1940s, because my lily-white, college student mother was in the NAACP and was one of those who were kicked out--for being white.
I might add that there was considerable bad feeling about it at the time. Even some suggestions of anti-semitism.
posted by kablam at 4:14 PM on July 25, 2004


Bush was only tepidly received at the Urban League

If by "tepid" you mean more applause breaks in his speech than the State of the Union, yeah, sure. (The audio and transcript are available online, check for yourselves if you care.)
posted by Dreama at 4:16 PM on July 25, 2004


Bush won't appear anywhere where the crowd isn't stage-managed to the person. Irrelevent.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:28 PM on July 25, 2004


No, Dreama, by "tepid", we mean "tepid". But nice try at misleading spin.

Miami Herald: Frosty Reception for Bush at Black Forum in Detroit

Boston Globe: Bush courts black voters in speech, but response is tepid

Dallas Morning News: Urban League Reacts Tepidly to Bush Speech

Keep on Dreama-ing and spina-ing, though.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:58 PM on July 25, 2004


I still don't understand why some people refuse to see humor in this. If Al Sharpton had shown up to represent black conservatives, wouldn't it have been funny? Yes? Well then why isn't it funny when a white conservative shows up to represent a black conservative?
posted by Ptrin at 6:34 PM on July 25, 2004


Horsies are pretty!
posted by swift at 8:19 PM on July 25, 2004


Ptrin: "[...] it's just as funny if the group's director had shown up and been a black liberal."

No, those are completely different things. Being a liberal is a political affiliation - it implies certain opinions and so on.
Being black or white is not a political affiliation, except in a racist society. A person's opinions, likely course of action, tastes and so on can not be inferred from her skin color.

You know what would really be funny? If skin color was not an indication of anything except pigment cell density.
If we lived in a society where race was a non-issue, and certainly not something to comment on or even raise an eyebrow over.

That'd be hilarious.
posted by spazzm at 8:45 PM on July 25, 2004


Okay. What if a (hypothetical) National Organization of Conservative Women turned out not to have any female directors, and few if any women in any signficant roles other than as spokespersons? Would that or would that not be a complete sham? What, for that matter, if a group called Hispanic Conservatives of America didn't have any Hispanic people actually involved in running it? Would that or would that not be a pathetic joke, and in fact a complete insult to Hispanics?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:41 PM on July 25, 2004


No, Dreama, by "tepid", we mean "tepid". But nice try at misleading spin.

See, unlike you, I judge by what I hear for myself, not by what the media reports. But if you believe my firsthand experience is spin, and the newspapers hold objective truth, more power to you. It's nice to have that glimpse into your mindset, foldy.
posted by Dreama at 9:56 PM on July 25, 2004


To be honest, I don't have a problem with a major force in the black conservative movement being a white-run organization. Then again, I also don't have a problem with the early civil rights organizations being largely communist-run. I'm easy like that. I find this funny ins that C-SPAN obviously set up this interview for the purposes of getting a politically significant man who was both black AND conservative on the show, and they ended up with a white guy. It's funny in a "best laid plans of mice and men" sort of way.
posted by Ptrin at 10:12 PM on July 25, 2004


Actually Dreama, I saw it for myself. It was probably Bush at his most uncomfortable, and for you to spin it like that is pretty bad I think.
posted by owillis at 10:22 PM on July 25, 2004


The funniest thing about this is that a lot of Black Americans are fairly socially conservative. Bush admitted there was "work to do", but what form would this work take? Gaffes like this one only continue to show that the GOP has no clue as to how even open a dialogue with (some) of us.
I feel his use of Condi and Colin at the 2000 convention was cynical and for me, had the opposite effect of what was intended. I've been paying attention to politics since 1980 and yet I found the only ones who had anything meaningful to say were Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich...yet, no action.
posted by black8 at 1:11 AM on July 26, 2004


This IS funny, but nearly as funny is that the poster went to the effort of creating it. THanks, though.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:46 AM on July 26, 2004


See, unlike you, I judge by what I hear for myself,

If by "I judge by what I hear for myself" you mean "I let my own partisan perspective color everything I see", then I'm sure you do.
posted by jpoulos at 5:49 AM on July 26, 2004


Oh right Dreama. Individual experience isn't subjective? hahahahaha
posted by archimago at 6:13 AM on July 26, 2004


jonmc--

Hmm. Maybe I was a little harsh myself -- you've been witness to racial tension that I haven't, and you've got reason to be sensitive. I just tend to feel its better to laugh about the ridiculous rather than express indignance all day. Laughter's more fun.
posted by effugas at 9:00 AM on July 26, 2004


Not that you express indignance all day. Man, I'm just getting myself in trouble left and right!
posted by effugas at 9:01 AM on July 26, 2004


Don't swear it, effugas. I went a little over the top anyway.

And while I've heard tales of, and witnessed racial tension, I've also witnessed my share of racial harmony, too.

But wherever you live, next time your out having a beer next to some old guy, black or white, what the 60's and 70's of this century was like on city streets. It was a rather more complicated stew than the official version of things would have you believe.

Or just read this book or John Sayles' Union Dues (or see his film City Of Hope) to get a much more nuanced version of what's happened.
posted by jonmc at 9:26 AM on July 26, 2004


That is fucking hilarious.
posted by adampsyche at 9:36 AM on July 26, 2004


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