On Friday, August 17th of 2012, as I watched my Twitter timeline, my eyes were drawn to a tweet by Bakari Kitwana (@therealbakari) that read, “we spend 2 much time in mainstream national discourse letting racists define what racism is. those who know, call it what it is #noapologies.” Mr. Kitwana prefaced and followed this tweet up with a number of links to a recent MSNBC political discussion regarding controversial comments made by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney’s comments and the ensuing discussion can be viewed in the video at the bottom of this page.
MSNBC contributor, Touré, of post racialism fame, and co-host S.E. Cull, engaged in a brief, heated and racially charged debate. Mitt Romney’s comments that were called into question are as follows, “This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like…Mr. President take your campaign and division and anger and hate back to Chicago…”
MSNBC co-host, Krystal Ball then stated that these comments “seem loaded” and she elicited feedback from the panelists. Touré then provided his assessment of Mr. Romney’s political rhetoric; “That really bothered me. You notice he said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us. I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization.’ You are not one of us and that you are like the scary black man we’ve been trained to fear.” Touré went on to explain how the use of the descriptor, angry in reference to the President was antithetical to “No Drama Obama’s” political methodology, training and philosophy.
Co-host S.E. Cupp took offense to Touré’s assertion that Romney’s statements were a veiled attempt to niggerize President Obama. In making her point, Ms. Cupp alluded to Vice President Biden’s recent “Back in Chains” comment, which Touré called “divisive.” She continued by posing questions regarding a double standard, “…because he [Romney] used the word ‘angry,’ now his is the racially charged comment. Do you see how dishonest that is?” Touré clarified that he did not call anyone racist while S.E. Cupp continued to assert, “Certainly you were implying that Mitt Romney and the base will respond to this dog-whistle, racially-charged coding, and hate Obama, the angry black man?” She completed her assault of Touré’s assessment stating matter-of-factly, “that is so irresponsible Touré.” At this point Touré begins to lay out some historical allusions as to how the GOP (the Grand Old Party a.k.a. the Republicans) used racial coding going back “perhaps as far as Nixon.”
I want to end the synopsis about the discussion here, and add that racially coded language is a cornerstone of American politics, history, culture, life and reality. Furthermore racially coded language does more than date back, “perhaps as far as Nixon.” Racially coded language has been in play on both sides of the popular political discourse in these “United” States for as long as her creation, and that may in fact be what truly unites us.
Nonetheless, Bakari Kitwana agreed with Touré’s thoughts on the racial under and overtones of Mitt Romney’s “angry” comment in a number of tweets like, “@Touré was right. Since Obama electe[election], those uncomfortable w/[with] Black leadership have been abt[about] the niggerization business.” Mr. Kitwana went on to add some experiential validity to Touré’s comments and provide some encouragement for the marginalized and suppressed voices of the oppressed in this tweet, “if you have endured white supremacy, you don’t need to apologize for calling it out!”
I determined that I would write about this, the latest and most current discourse on race, which happened to take place on the birthday of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who is the well regarded father of Pan-Africanism as it is understood today. Interestingly I have been reading and digesting the book, “Darkwater: Voices From Within The Veil” by one of Garvey’s contemporaries and vociferous critic, W.E.B DuBois. In this must read book, DuBois has a chapter entitled, “The Souls of White Folk”, which is a clever play on the title of his most famous and widely accepted work, “The Souls of Black Folk.” In Darkwater, DuBois introduces his chapter “The Souls of White Folk,” with a strikingly insightful and amazingly relevant discussion about the ability of himself, a person like Touré, of mixed racial makeup but predominantly African heritage, to properly understand and assess the psychology, attitudes and consciousness of White Folk, DuBois declaims:
The Souls of White Folks
“High in the tower, where I sit above the loud complaining human sea, I know many souls that toss and whirl and pass, but none there are that intrigue me more than the Souls of White Folk.”
“Of them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and through them. I view them from unusual points of vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh of their language. Mine is not the knowledge of the traveler or the colonial composite of dear memories, words and wonder. Nor yet is my knowledge that which servants have of masters, or mass of class, or capitalist of artisan. Rather I see these souls undressed and from the back and side. I see the working of their entrails. I know their thoughts and they know that I know. This knowledge makes them now embarrassed, now furious. They deny my right to live and be and call me misbirth! My word is to them mere bitterness and my soul, pessimism. And yet as they preach and strut and shout and threaten, crouching as they clutch at rags of facts and fancies to hide their nakedness, they go twisting, flying by my tired eyes and I see them ever stripped, – ugly, human.” (DuBois, Darkwater: Voices From Within The Veil, pp. 34)
As Mr. Kitwana has succinctly proclaims, “#noapologies” are needed. The voices, perspectives, insights and assessments of those who “have endured white supremacy” are those most accurate, most needed, most valid and still most despised. Thank you to those mentioned above, who inspired these thoughts and to the legacy two of heroic ancestors, Marcus Mosiah Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois, who have already courageously stated and done that which my generation is often afraid to say and do, to these two, who ideologically and philosophically quarreled but exhausted their souls fighting for, “One God, One Aim, One Destiny.”
Mr. Romney’s comments and the ensuing discussion
Vice President Biden’s recent “Back in Chains” comment
Article Written by Amil Nyerere Thomas Cook