There has been an interesting discussion at World Magazine Blog on the song “Barack the Magic Negro.” I can’t believe how stupid people can be. The song is a parody of a column written by a liberal black man. Nevertheless, people have said that the satirical song is racist. Never mind that it was the liberal black man, David Ehrenstein, who called Barack Obama a “Magic Negro.”
(It reminds me of the man who was offended by the word niggardly and the man who was offended by the phrase black hole. I think somebody could write a song that said, “Don’t call people N—-r, because it’s not a nice name,” and people would object to it as racist because it contained the N-word.)
It was a year-and-a-half before the election when Ehrenstein published the original column in the Los Angeles Times. Hillary Clinton was considered a shoo-in. I think that Al Sharpton might still have been in the running, and it is an imitation of his voice that is used in the song. Politically speaking, Barack Obama was his (and Jesse Jackson’s) worst nightmare. At that time it was acceptable for certain African Americans to question Obama’s blackness, but once he had locked up the nomination he became the icon that epitomized all the longings and hopes that African Americans had held for centuries. Odd, no?
I think that the reaction to the song reveals a lot of things that are mostly under the surface of our country’s psyche. For liberals, life is encapsulated in words and symbols. Because the song had the word “negro” in it, it was taken immediately as racist. Never mind that the word is still part of the name of the United Negro College Fund. Forget the fact that it was a black liberal who called Obama that. Although it was okay to question Obama’s blackness in 2007 (after all he was raised by an Indonesian stepfather and a white American mother), he eventually became the ultimate and perfect symbol of African American culture, much to the chagrin of Jesse Jackson. (I’m sure you remember that Jackson wanted to castrate Obama, and then he cried during his acceptance speech. Words and symbols, words and symbols).
In the meantime, conservatives were asking about each of the nominees, Clinton and Obama included: Is this person qualified? Are his stated positions good for our country? Does his or her voting record show consistency and good judgment? They were discounting race and sex as reasons for voting for a candidate. They were making fun of people who either portrayed Obama as “The Magic Negro” or as a black secular Messiah. Nobody–white, black, Asian, or Latino–should be portrayed in such absolute or burdensome terms.
So who are the real racists? In a column on this same topic, Larry Elder points out that the Democratic Party was the party of anti-black bigots while the Republican Party was supporting civil rights and desegregation. He points out that the Republican Party platform would help black people, especially school choice and privatized retirement funds.
I would also like to point out that African Americans mostly oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, yet the Democratic Party is strongly in favor of those things. Although they want law enforcement done in a just manner, they want their neighborhoods freed of drugs and violence.
Why then do African Americans remain loyal to the Democratic Party? Despite all evidence to the contrary, I think many of them are convinced that Republicans are mostly white bigots. As Larry Elder points out, they have been fed that line over and over. It’s no wonder that many people would believe it. I agree with Elder that Republicans need to be more proactive in showing how their platform is more in line with their core values and more beneficial to them in the long run.
So who are the real racists? Is it the black man who called Barack Obama a “Magic Negro” and said that white people would vote for him only out of guilt and only because he was perceived as “safe”? Or is it the white people who can boldly ridicule that nonsense because they truly judge people on their merits and not on their skin color?