Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Talking about race is not, per se, racist

In this morning's papers we find an excellent analysis by Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald columnist. Read it here.

Pitts discusses the uproar over the private comment during the 2008 election season by Senate majority leader Harry Reid. an Obama supporter, that "the country was finally ready to elect a black man, especially one who, like Obama, is 'light skinned' and has 'no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.'"

This statement represented, not any racist outlook by Reid, but his recognition that some Americans still are gripped by racial stereotypes and that this fact is reflected in voting. As Pitts notes, what Reid said is quite true. And the attempt by Republican chairman Michael Steele to equate this remark with the public comment that doomed Repubican senator Trent Lott is ridiculous. As Pitts notes, the trouble with Lott's comment was that it suggested "America would have been better off had an arch-segregationist (Strom Thurmond) been elected president in 1948."

Says Pitts, "To believe Reid did something wrong . . . is to buy the silly contention that talking abour race is, by itself, racist. .... No, Reid's sin was to be blunt, indecorous, impolitic. And right."

I had been thinking about writing an op-ed about this situation. Leonard Pitts has written exactly what I would have said, so he has saved me the trouble.

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