Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama: My "Typical White Grandmother"

Don Imus gave John Kerry valuable advice once when he told him, “stop it, stop talking, you are going to ruin this.” That advice might have better been given to Barack Obama as he intimated his grandmother was “a typical White person,” fearful of Blacks.

Aptly stated is, “when you find yourself deep in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” If anything ever applied more to the junior Senator it would be the above, as he tried to sooth over a previous gaffe where many took his words to describe his White grandmother as a racist, but made matters worse.

In his first effort to excuse and distance himself from what many describe as hateful race-baiting speeches of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, he said of his grandmother,

“…a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

Under fire for that less than honorable description of the woman who lovingly raised and cared for him, Senator Obama sought to sooth that over when he was asked by Philadelphia’s radio 610 WIP host Angelo Cataldi about the reference to his grandmother that he gave. He replied,
The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person who, uh, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way and that’s just the nature of race in our society.”

So, grandma isn’t one to harbor racial animosity, but like a “Typical White Person,” she fears those she doesn’t know who approach her, presumably Blacks?

It can safely be said to refer to Blacks approaching her as he wrote in his book, Dreams of My Father, about her being upset because an aggressive panhandler that once accosted her was Black.

I would think the grandma would be as equally fearful had a White aggressive panhandler accosted her demanding money too! In fact, I’m not aware of too many people who are accosted by aggressive persons on the street who don’t become upset at the encounter.

But, how does that make grandma a “Typical White Person” who imputes motives upon Blacks automatically? Where did he ever learn that it is “Typical” of Whites to act in such a manner? Does he not realize he is half White and that must mean his White side would share that attribute he assigns to Whites as “Typical?”

On the other hand, imagine, if you will, any White person, especially a conservative campaigning for high office, publicly stating that his Kenyan father’s getting his White mother pregnant and leaving her behind as he returned to Kenya represents a “Typical Black Man.” Would not he and every Black American be offended at such a crass misrepresentation of Blacks?

The Senator campaigns on a platform as a “uniter.” Off the cuff remarks as the above don’t unite; they further divide an already divided nation.

Some say such an unscripted remark reveals an insight often hidden from public view of a candidate as the Senator is labeled a Black racist. Some others have said this is the death roll of is quest for the presidency, which obviously remains to be seen.

Obama campaign spokesperson, Ben LaBolt said,
Barack Obama said specifically that he didn’t believe his grandmother harbored any racial animosity but that her fears were understandable and typical of those often shared by her generation,” adding, “But the campaign also said the senator did not mean to suggest all white people share his grandmother’s reaction to seeing a black person pass her by on the street.”

I hardly see an aggressive panhandler as simply a “Black person passing her by.”

Is grandma a racist? Could she be since she raised a White daughter who fathered Obama with a Black African? Could she be if, as Obama also described her, she is “a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world?”

Of his Kenyan father, who left when the Senator was 2 years old, Obama said in his book,
When I was ten, my father came back from Africa to visit us for Christmas. After a week of my father in the flesh, I decided that I preferred his more distant image, an image I could alter on a whim - or ignore when convenient. If my father hadn't exactly disappointed me, he remained something unknown, something volatile and vaguely threatening.”

Yet, Obama doesn’t describe him as “Typical” anything.

If, as his spokesperson LaBolt says, such a reaction is “understandable and typical of her generation,” what then does a similar reaction today make of people who say,
There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved?”
Reverend Jesse Jackson, December 1993.

Senator, a wise saying we had in the Army, “Caution! Place brain in gear before placing mouth in motion.”

One is left wondering if the Senator would be where he is today had his “Typical White” mother and grandparents simply shipped him off to Kenya to be raised by his “volatile and vaguely threatening” father, instead of lovingly raising and nurturing him as they did.

Senator, you just might have handed your opponent the nomination for your party.