Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Barack the Magic Negro? Really???
So, one of the candidates for RNC chairman decided it was a good idea to send around a CD to his cohort with a song in which a Rush Limbaugh songwriter (a white guy) pretends to be Al Sharpton being dismayed about how Barack Obama has more appeal than him. Additionally, there's other hits like "The Star Spanglish Banner." Ugh.
In the first place, the Magic Negro song itself (originally released about eighteen months ago with plenty of Rush Limbaugh airplay) is disgusting. In the second place, it tries to put words in Al Sharpton's mouth, and seems to try and stir up or present discord among the leadership in the black community/communities, which is disgusting on a different level. And in the third place, it's even uglier that even after the election, instead of realizing that white racism is one of the reasons that republicans lost the presidential election, and that maybe they could do something to work toward right (no pun intended) relationship with communities of color, someone would think a racist mixed CD would be a good way to build community.
To me, one of the biggest problems here is that a person (a white person in this case) is afforded a voice in the mass media, and is using that voice to ostensibly speak from and to the black community, trying to insert something into the story. I loathe when people try to tell my story for me or about others. But when they do, I ask two questions: 1) What story are they trying to tell? and 2) How close is it to the ultimate reality? And now I will start developing a habit of asking a third question: 3) WHY are they telling this story?
Why would Rush Limbaugh tell a story about Al Sharpton and Barack Obama on his show? "To try to define the context and then influence opinion," is my initial guess, but I'm sure there are other reasons if we look more deeply.
What story are the originators of this song trying to tell? That Barack is a Magic Negro, supposedly. First, that he fits into a racialized category of their definition/agreement. And then, that by "Magic" they mean he's the black man that all the white folks can feel OK about. And then, that Al Sharpton is upset, and would call Barack out for not being the same kind of black man that he is. I really wonder how Al Sharpton responds to this video, but have been unable to find that in searches yet.
And finally, how close is this story to the truth? Well, if it had actually come from Al Sharpton's mouth, it would have more credibility, but considering the sources, it's quite apparently fabricated. People who fabricate things, and tell other people's stories for them should have their access to the mass media cut back accordingly, but apparently, Rush has friends who let him keep on keeping on.
Now regarding Chip Saltsman, the racist CD-mixer, who tries to continue propagating that story... What story is he telling, how close is it to the truth, and why is he telling it?
Here's the story I tell about him, though I would really love to hear it from his own mouth: What story is he telling? That it's OK, in fact it's appropriate, to send around a CD with songs like this, as some token of unity. How close to the truth? Probably not very, except in the limited community who already buys into overt bigotry and propaganda that continues to put it out there. Why does he tell the story? To try and remind/convince himself and others in his group that things are not changing, and that white people are still inherently better.
I would hope that my story is off-base, and welcome a response to tell the real story. Until then, I'd also offer another story for Chip to tell: The story he's telling is that he's out of touch. That naming this act "out of touch" is pretty close to the truth. And that he's telling the story so that someone will come and offer some assistance, so he and his friends can learn to be in right relationship with others beyond their cohort, with others within the cohort, and with themselves, and the stories they tell about themselves.
It would be great if those further along toward building a beloved and harmonious community could just do a magic FTFY for them, but it seems there is still a part of humanity who will choose to (or be unable to do other than) learn this the hard way, and hopefully in the meantime, other people with more consolidational values will gain grounding and connection in the effort to making justice happen.
lyrics: Not from that song!
mood: a whole laundry list of stuff to do
chant/prayer/mantra: energy, friends, prayer, dream
agape to all,