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It’s Just Because He’s, You Know, Black

October 19, 2008

Kleinheider goes a long way in attempting to paint Powell’s endorsement as ineffectual and possibly a win for McCain. As part of his reasoning:

Most whites in America have no sense of racial solidarity. They do not think of themselves as white Americans or any kind of hyphenated American, they see themselves as simply Americans.

This is folly. I would say that many White brothers and sisters don’t think of themselves as White Americans because the “White” part is the understood modifier and always has been until the last half of the last century. There’s no need to mention something that is universally understood among your cohort. One may voice the sentiment that we don’t need hyphens because in their experience the hyphen has never been applied to them.

However, as applied to ACK’s reasoning that the Powell decision will not be a big factor because of this kind of “non racial” thinking, then this is a contradiction. For White people to reject Powell’s endorsement as racial solidarity among Black folks, there MUST be a sense of “White Americans” as a group that has something in common that they do not share with Black Americans. If they don’t see themselves as a group, then how can they perceive a threat to themselves as a group of people with shared characteristics?

People who are shrugging off Powell’s endorsement as mere racial solidarity are not going to be pulling the trigger for Obama, end of story. That line of thinking is their security blanket that Powell’s endorsement will not matter in the main. It is a position that ignores the reality of Powell’s popularity and the real story which is the now snowballing move of moderate Republicans to Obama. There is no way to count this as a win for McCain.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. averageuscitizen permalink
    October 19, 2008 2:38 pm

    Colin Powell explained his choice very well this morning on Meet the Press when asked that exact question. He said that if he was voting for Barack Obama because of race, he would have endorsed him many months ago and that his choice came after much research, deliberation and thought.

    Powell is a brilliant man and I believe that he is not one to play politics or be swayed by populism.

    The fact is that no matter how far ahead in the polls Barack Obama may be, it’s not yet time to ease up on our determination to get him elected. We all have to vote, make sure our votes are counted and start to move this country forward once again.

  2. October 19, 2008 3:57 pm

    Mark, you’re absolutely right, but you’re arguing with a wall. The research on whiteness as a collective racial identity is conclusive — whites do indeed, both consciously and unconsciously identify collectively with other people they perceive as white. (They also attribute whiteness to unraced subjects who are described as better educated, more affluent, more well-traveled…whiteness being as much about class and cultural performance as it is about perception of phenotype.)

    Moreover, the greater the degree of this collective identification by white research subjects, the more marked the trouble they had in distinguishing between dark-skinned Caribbean Hispanics, Africans, African-Americans, and bi-racial people (who often have little in common historically or culturally and are more likely to be in conflict than to identify as “black”). They really had habituated themselves to seeing the world in black and white and even when given more complicated information, they couldn’t process it.

    I guess that’s why Adam and others like him who are in denial about their degree of collective racial identification might be likely to jump to the improbable hysterical conclusion of the “big payback” — they imagine themselves connected in some way (even if it’s the ability to guess they are collectively identified in the racial imaginary of The Black Mind) and thus targeted for collective retribution.


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