07 February 2010


As Karnythia points out in her blog post "Transcending Race...A History Lesson," there is racism and there is racism. MSNBC commentator [I hate that word -- one who comments is a commentor. A commentator is just an ordinary spud.], after hearing President Obama's State of the Union Address, rather famously remarked, "You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight. And, um, it's interesting. He is post-racial by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he's gone a long way to becoming a leader of this country and passed so much history in just a year or two." (To view a video of the complete State Of The Union Address, click here.)

Comedian and talk show host Jon Stewart was all over Matthews like white on snow, as was (more thoughtfully) Whoopi Goldberg. For the most incisive commentary, please check out Karynthia's blog post above. It is brief and to the point.

Bottom line, Matthews (who is more liberal than conservative, and who is mostly supportive toward Obama) forgot to put his brain in gear before putting his mouth in motion. Well okay, we all do sometimes. But when you're on national television, and especially when you're commenting on race, you'd be well advised to pause for just a moment and think about how this is going to really sound. Effect trumps intent every time. As Edward P. Jones expressed it in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Known World, "The hitter can never be the judge. Only the receiver of the blow can tell you how hard it was, whether it woud kill a man or make a baby just yawn."

Racism is alive and well, even among those who are well-intentioned. Sometimes it takes a faux pas to generate discussion and refine our understanding of just how insidiously deep-rooted this virus really is. Ultimately, if we learn from our mistakes by honestly listening to each other, we take small baby steps toward the day when racism no longer poisons our perceptions, words and deeds. Racism comes in all flavors, and all degrees ranging from mild to severe. The one thing it uniformly is? ............. intolerable.

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