Daily Wisdom

March 26, 2008

Not A "Typical White Person"

By now, I'm sure that most of you have heard the remark by Barack Obama that his grandmother is "a typical white person", a suggestion that most whites react to black people with fear and suspicion. As I was watching "Special Report w/ Brit Hume" on FoxNews the other night, I listened to the panel react to Obama's comment. All three of the panelists specifically pointed out that they were not offended by the remark.

As for myself however, I WAS offended by the remark. Sure, the appearance of some black people in certain situations does frighten me... as does the appearance of some white people... as does the appearance of some Latinos... as does the appearance of some Muslim people... as does the appearance of ANYONE in certain situations. When people appear to be menacing, or drunk, or rowdy, or lurking, or stalking, or gang members... they can be "frightening". But that's besides the point.

What Obama actually said, was that the "typical white person" has reactions which are "bred" into them... "and that's just the nature of race in our society". What does he imply by such a statement -- that it's really the fault of white parents for not "breeding" their children any better?

And so what of blacks then? Are they "bred" better than whites? How does the "typical black person" react when he or she sees a white person? With suspicion? With fear? With disdain or animosity? Well, if any of those words apply, then it's a 2-way street and you have to start talking about the "typical person". The use of the adjective "white" or "black" becomes superfluous if both races are guilty of being suspicious of one another.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this whole thing, but frankly... I find it annoying and irritating for several reasons. First of all, I can remember as early as kindergarten (circa 1957) that I was taught (by liberal teachers no doubt) that all men are created equal: yellow, brown, red and white. I specifically remember one of those "weekly reader" kind of publications for kids that had a picture of a globe on it with people of different colors encircling the globe and all holding hands (something along the lines of the picture here). Race relations was a big topic of discussion at the time.

As a kid, I watched TV with my parents (in "black and white" ironically), and I saw the pictures of fire hoses and dogs being used against blacks in the South. My parents were shocked. I was shocked. For me personally, it was not so much because of what whites were doing to blacks, but because of what people were doing to other people.

I remember watching Martin Luther King give his "I have a dream speech" on TV. I don't know if I saw the original speech in 1963 (I suspect I would have been outdoors playing at that time of day and that time of year). But I know for a fact that I recorded it onto a reel-to-reel audio tape a few years later when it was replayed on TV... perhaps on the fifth anniversary of the speech in 1968. (However, I DO remember watching Jack Ruby get shot on live TV in 1963.)

I remember my mother taking me into a deli in Elizabeth, NJ when I was 11 or 12 years old. We were new to the area and had no familiarity with the local establishments. She started to "freak out" shortly after we walked through the door. I couldn't understand what made her so nervous, so she explained to me that it was basically a black-only establishment. It frightened her apparently to be surrounded by so many black people. It didn't bother me in the slightest and I thought she was just being silly.

I remember the summer of 1967. My friends and I went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium. According to historical records, it must have been on July 13th. We were on the bus riding through Newark when at one stop, an injured black man got onto the bus holding a bloody rag to his head. We later learned that the Newark riots had started that day. It was a frightening situation, but only because you didn't normally see bloody people getting onto the bus. The riots didn't affect us much. The blacks destroyed their own neighborhoods more than anything else.

In college, I had a math professor who was black. He was one of those guys who has a chip on his shoulder. And he didn't teach very well either. He talked over and over about how rough it had been while he was going through school. He talked about the discrimination he had encountered, and I believed him. If not the first time, then by the tenth or eleventh time he told the story. On one particular test, I got the highest grade in the class... and it was a "D". As it turned out, I flunked the course (as did everyone else in the class, save perhaps one). I took the course again during the summer with another prof, and I passed with a "B+". And although I was annoyed that I had wasted my time, I never really held it against him. I figured he had it a whole lot worse than me.

And although my parents may have criticized black people on rare occasions, I must admit that I can never recall hearing them use the "N" word... EVER. My father took great pains to live up to the ideal of being "a Christian gentleman" -- a concept that was taught to him at a very early age. He is 85 years old now and still tries to live up to that standard (although my mom will tell you about every time he's failed).

As an adult, I have always tried to judge people by the "content of their character" (as Martin Luther King would say). I hired people based on their qualifications regardless of color, gender or ethnicity, etc. Although I managed only a small department with my previous employer of 17 years, I would like to think that, on a percentage basis anyway, I had the best EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) record of anyone in the company. Out of (16) people I hired, there were: (3) black men, (1) black woman, (1) Russian woman, (2) white women, (1) Philippino man, and (1) hearing-impaired man. The others were your standard, run-of-the-mill "white guys". I was not just a little pleased when the last black man I hired said of me, "He hasn't got a prejudiced bone in his body".

Therefore, I'm sorry but, I don't feel like I qualify as Obama's "typical white person" -- suspicious, fearful, and badly "bred". Perhaps I'm unique. I'm not so foolish as to think that there aren't any more white rascists in America, but I think that there are far fewer than some black ministers would like you to believe. Frankly, I'm tired of black people playing the race card. It's getting a bit old and stale in my opinion. As Juan Williams of NPR said recently (in reference to Michelle Obama)...

"there's no way that a black woman in America who is 44 years old can't be proud of the incredible progress this country has shown in terms of inclusiveness. We've got women on the Supreme Court now. We have a woman as Secretary of State, a black woman, in fact, if you haven't noticed. And the idea is — I believe she went to Princeton and then Harvard, and she was at Sidley & Austin, a major American law firm. That is just not possible in the previous generation."

And can you imagine if Hillary Clinton or John McCain had said something like what Obama said, but in regards to blacks? Sure, I can see it now: "That's how a typical black person reacts... you know... it's how they're bred". Such a statement would go uncontested for all of about 30 seconds. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would be ALL OVER that one! And yet, even as I type this, the Obama comments are fading into the background because it's OK for a black person to say it, but not a white person. It's OK for a black person to use the "N" word, but it's not OK for a white person to say it.

That's what is referred to as "free speech". I think I read that in the First Amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech... subject only to the Political Correctness limitations imposed by white people upon white people at the sole discretion of black people". But then I'm paraphrasing...


At 3/26/2008 11:51 PM , Blogger How Insane Is John McCain? said...


At 3/27/2008 12:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well said.

At 3/27/2008 8:09 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

How Insane Is John McCain?,
Get some sleep if you're tired...

At 3/27/2008 8:09 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Thanks... and Best regards (:D)

At 3/27/2008 8:15 AM , Anonymous camojack said...

I posted the following in a Jeremiah Wright thread elsewhere:

As someone who is half Black and half White, Obama was in a unique position to help "heal the nation's racial wounds".

Instead, he has chosen sides.

When questioned about his remarks regarding his grandmother on a radio show in my hometown of Philadelphia, where he chose to give his speech on racial issues, he called her a "typical white person"...not a typical person, but a typical white one.

Words matter...

At 3/27/2008 9:53 AM , Blogger Jenn said...

Yeah, that offends me, too, and I don't offend easily. If I was afraid of seeing a young black man I'd be shaking like jello every day because my classroom is usually full of them.

And you know what? It don't bother me none.

Sorry, Obama.

At 3/27/2008 10:06 AM , Blogger Maggie said...

Pardon me for using an N-word,but this post was NIFTY.Well written.....and you are also NICE.

At 3/27/2008 1:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to ask Mrs Obama to name anything important that has been invented by any Black African,in Africa.Then start listing the very long list of inventions by American Black people.
Then I would like to know all these wonderful Countries that have Black Leaders,Black Lawmakers,not in Africa or the Carribean .France?Germany?Great Britain?Cuba?Venezuela?Russia?Canada?Have any Black people even run for the top job in any of these Countries?Is the Mayor of Paris Black?Berlin?Moscow?
Are all these Countries filled with "typical White People"?


At 3/27/2008 1:56 PM , Blogger Ms RightWing's Ink said...


I too, remember all the things you said. I grew up in a home where Hillbillies were hated more than blacks. The people from West Virginia would drive up to Akron area, work two weeks and take there paychecks and go home. Most every black I knew stuck to his job, though in my youth their pay was low.

Our class voted for a black cheerleader, which was unheard of in a mostly white school. Most of us did not see color like our parents, but on the flip side of that, I remember hearing every black joke there was as a teenager, but I also heard every Pollock joke also.

My next door neighbor is black, my MS friends are black and white and the only person who took me out for my 50th birthday was black. Now, I wonder who will take me out for my 60th. :-)

I take public transportation and sometimes the gang kids will get on and yes, as a wheelchair person, I feel like I could be an easy target, but it has never happened.

In the late 60's and early 70's I lived in Cleveland and rode a 450 Honda from the West side to the East right down Euclid Avenue. It went through the black section. I did not fear the people. Now, some of Cleveland is bad from crack dealers and no, I would not go there.

Obama has major color blind issues and he need not project them on me.

"Nuff said.

At 3/27/2008 2:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

More "N" words
Nattering Nabobs of Negativity are trying to Nihilize,Neuter,and Nullify our Nation,with their Nugatory Nastiness.
To them I say 'Nahh,Nahh ,Na,Nahh,Nahh"


At 3/27/2008 6:25 PM , Blogger Beerme said...

I live in a state where Blacks have been mayors of the largest cities for over thirty five years,

where many branches of the State government have had Black leadership for over twenty five years,

where the contracts have been awarded-at least partly-on the basis of the company's minority ownership for over twenty years,

where there has never been a slave owner or a slave,

where no person, White or Black has ever received the death penalty (except for one Federal prisoner in a Federal Prison-an event that was strongly protested and opposed by the citizens of Michigan),

where Blacks and women have been on more than equal footing with White men for several decades (I have been the highest ranking White man in my State-run prison for years, now and I am tied for fifth-place in the ranking order).

My Deputy Warden is a woman, my Warden is a woman, the Warden's boss is a woman, the Director of the Department is a woman, and the Governor is a woman!

I have been passed over so many times for promotions because of my White, maleness, I don't even apply anymore.

So, when I hear someone talking about the disadvantages of Blacks and women in this society or any in the past several decades, I wonder what State they're from...

At 3/29/2008 12:32 AM , Anonymous R.A.M. said...

I have thought for some time that some black families teach their children that the "white person" is evil. After listening to "REV" Wright, Obama, and the defenders of both of them, I feel I severely UNDERESTIMATED the black families that teach this to their children!

Think about the famous black people who do good works such as Oprah, and professional ball players. Almost always, the ones they help are ONLY blacks. If white people did this, there would be an uproar! Why doesn't Oprah help some people in Appalechia?

I am more concerned about Obama, and the pass he is getting from ALL races. He has said, "I'm a Christian, I pray to Jesus every night!" I guess Muslims don't know Chrisians pray to GOD, in Jesus name?

I find it incredibly strange that black supremists (sp), just like white ones are for the "purity" of the race, yet Obama is a mixed race and they still love him.

Check out this story, http://www.onenewsnow.com/Election2008/Default.aspx?id=73553
Apparently Obama believes that you do NOT have to believe in Jesus to get Salvation!

I am cautious saying WHO I believe Obama really is, I will simply say if he is, and he becomes President, we ALL will know VERY soon.

GOD help us!

At 3/29/2008 3:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, you guys! It's terrific that you are all so colour blind, but it must be remembered that racism is not just a matter personal relationships – racism is systematic, and if you had grown up with these invisible prejudices fighting against you and yours every step of the way then you might understand where the African-American population is coming from.


Yes, speaking in terms of 'typical' is always going to get one into trouble as no one thinks of themselves as typical, but without splitting hairs too much I'm sure you understand what he was trying to get at.

Conservatives seem to think that after the Civil Rights Act was signed the battle was over and blacks should just get over it, but that was just the start. The immense income gap in America between back and white comes from the establishment basically putting their feet up on the issue and blaming black poverty on their inherent laziness.

Read this: http://www.demos.org

You won't like it, but read it anyway.

Look, in the end it cannot be denied that white people can be a tad edgy if black people loom into view on a dark night, just as black people used to be a bit concerned when white people loomed into view on a dark night, and it is this fundamental mistrust that Obama seeks to address. He's not saying it's right – he's just saying it.

And by the way, the 'N' word is just not for white folk anymore. African-Americans stole it off you. Another casualty of the race wars. Get over it.



PS Hi, Jenn!

At 3/29/2008 8:12 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Words do indeed matter and it seems like the longer Obama speaks, the more his words trip him up... Not very presidential IMHO.

At 3/29/2008 8:27 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Thanks for your comment, and thanks for your service educating America's children (ie, "yutes"). (:D)

Like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream. But my dream is a world where a "Fair & Balanced" picture is presented in the media and in the classroom... a world where our ACTUAL "progress" is presented, not just the rants of "progressives". No reflection on you, but academia as well as the media is dominated by whining libs who seem to think we're still living in the 1940s or 50s.

Best regards...

At 3/29/2008 8:32 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Thank you for sharing those other "N-words". You are so "Nuanced"...

(:D) Best regards...

At 3/29/2008 8:45 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

In fairness to the countries you speak of, none of them were ever considered a "Great Melting Pot". On the other hand, this fact authenticates your statement and highlights the fact that America IS truly different from other countries. We are perhaps the most open and diverse country in the world.

I heard a comedian one time (Yakov Smirnoff perhaps) say something to the effect that... "I can go to Germany, but I'll never be a German. I can go to France, but I'll never be a Frenchman. I can go to Sweeden, but I'll never be a Swede. BUT, I can go to America and become an American".

(:D) Best regards...

At 3/29/2008 9:36 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Ms RW,
For those of us who are older [and wiser? (:D)], I think the thing that irritates us about the remarks of a Jeremiah Wright, is their apparent implication that there has been NO progress in race relations during the last 50 years.

Not only that, but for the "JWs" of this world, "rich, greedy, whiteys" are still to blame. After 50 years of accommodations we're still getting whacked for not having done enough. It's just plain tiresome.

During our lifetime, segregation has been outlawed, the Civil Rights Act was passed, the EEOC was established, affirmative action programs were implemented, Martin Luther King has been honored, and minority companies have received special favors. Blacks have attained many positions of importance in all areas of business and government. There are black astronauts, generals, justices, film and TV stars, CEOs, company directors, athletes, mayors, governors, congressional reps, senators, cabinet holders, Secretaries of State, and presidential candidates.

Is America perfect? Heck no. But how 'bout some credit, eh?

(:D) Rant over. Best regards...

At 3/29/2008 9:55 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Naturally! (:D)

At 3/29/2008 10:06 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

I'm sorry to hear that you were passed over for promotion. The "JWs" of this world seem to ignore such ramifications of progress in Civil Rights. You should be honored for the personal sacrifices which you and others have made for the sake of equality in this country. Instead, you are the subject of blistering attacks by self-promoting racists, and fodder for pandering presidential candidates.

Simply shameless IMO.

God's blessings on you and your family.

At 3/29/2008 10:18 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

I too fear an Obama presidency, if for no other reason than his extreme liberal position on almost every issue. I am particularly concerned about his promise to pull troops out of Iraq, regardless of the situation on the ground, regardless of what it might mean for American foreign policy, and regardless of the potential slaughter of thousands of Iraqis.

At 3/29/2008 11:27 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

You speak of "invisible prejudices fighting against (African-Americans) every step of the way". However, when I went to college for engineering nearly 30 years ago, there were black students who were there only because of the affirmative action programs... not because they had qualified to be there with good grades. They were not hindered in any way, but in fact were given a special pass. The same can be said for Michelle Obama according to her own statements. Other students who were actually qualified had to step aside so that they could get ahead.

Is there still some "invisible" discrimination going on? No doubt. Is there still some white racism? No doubt. But frankly, I believe that ANYBODY can make it in this country if they are willing to work hard for it and 'assimilate' into society. That goes for blacks as well as foreigners.

When ignorant blacks attack successful blacks as being "Oreos" or "house slaves", they are implying that blacks need to maintain a separate identity -- a black culture which is typically regarded as a "street" identity.

When blacks glorify anti-social rap music, guns, gangs, drugs, and the "hood" lifestyle, they are setting themselves up for "racial profiling" and stereotyping.

When blacks reject the value of a good education, they are rejecting their very means of economic advancement.

When blacks isolate themselves in "black communities", and attend "black churches", and shout "Amen" to the preaching of hatred against "rich whiteys", they perpetuate a self-imposed segregation.

Most employers have no hiring needs for a resumé that includes gang membership or "street smarts". Most employers are not interested in hiring people who feel they need to "get back at whitey" or "stick it to the man". Most employers have no needs for individuals who are proud that they lack a high school diploma.

If Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Barack Obama and thousands of others can get ahead, then it's not for a lack of opportunity, or because "whitey" is repressive. Not a few of the race problems in this country are self-imposed by the "victims". And racism is a 2-way street my friend.

Wake up to reality.

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