Locked in the Past
Before I write this, I want to say – clearly – that I have enormous admiration and respect for Eugene Robinson, the author of this morning’s Washington Post op-ed, "What Rice Can't See". He is a talented and thoughtful writer, and I read his work at every opportunity.
That said – his article this morning demonstrates an aspect of a social issue that is not discussed nearly enough.
Much of the debate and hostility around race relations in the United States tends to focus on “white” vs. “black”. Stereotyping and racial prejudice on both sides of this “color line” are real, but this myopic view of the issues fails to take into account the confusion within each of these communities.
This morning, Eugene Robinson is confused by Condoleeza Rice. How, he wonders, can she stand working for George W. Bush, when the “black community” has such low esteem for him? He said,
How does she work so loyally for George W. Bush, whose approval rating among blacks was measured in a recent poll at a negligible 2 percent? How did she come to a worldview so radically different from that of most black Americans? Is she blind, is she in denial, is she confused -- or what?What I wonder, frankly, is why Eugene Robinson is unable to see that there is no single “black community”. Americans who have African ancestry are as diverse as the world itself, and expecting a “one for all” approach to everything - by whites or blacks - is dangerously self-limiting.
Mr. Robinson assumes that because Dr. Rice is not locked into events of forty years ago, she is somehow betraying her “race”. She is maligned for not “reaching back” and “bringing others along”. Has she really mentored no-one? Or is the problem that Robinson can only measure her success by the number of black “others” she has promoted?
Apparently when Condi said
She doesn't deny that race makes a difference. "We all look forward to the day when this country is race-blind, but it isn't yet," she told reporters in Birmingham. Later she added, "The fact that our society is not colorblind is a statement of fact." Eugene Robinson's interpretation was that the responsibility for "race-blindness" rests solely on whites. Is it possible that he does not see his own attachment to the One Drop Rule? I think it’s very sad, actually, that the only measure of a black person, by the "black community", is still just the color of one’s skin.
How can Eugene Robinson expect the "white community" to see past this, when he cannot?