Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is your whiteness showing?

John Aravosis (DC), A controversial piece that piqued my interest because it's so controversial. See what you think. This is only a small excerpt:

This is an open letter to those white women who, despite their proclamations of progressivism, and supposedly because of their commitment to feminism, are threatening to withhold support from Barack Obama in November. You know who you are...

For those threatening to vote for John McCain or to stay home and help ensure Barack Obama's defeat, as a way to protest what you call Obama's sexism (examples of which you seem to have difficulty coming up with), all the while claiming to be standing up for women...

Your whiteness is showing.

When I say your whiteness is showing this is what I mean: You claim that your ppposition to Obama is an act of gender solidarity, in that women (and their male allies) need to stand up for women in the face of the sexist mistreatment of Clinton by the press. On this latter point--the one about the importance of standing up to the media for its often venal misogyny--you couldn't be more correct. As the father of two young girls who will have to contend with the poison of patriarchy all their lives, or at least until such time as that system of oppression is eradicated, I will be the first to join the boycott of, or demonstration on, whatever media outlet you choose to make that point. But on the first part of the above equation--the part where you insist voting against Obama is about gender solidarity--you are, for lack of a better way to put it, completely full of crap. And what's worse is that at some level I suspect you know it. Voting against Senator Obama is not about gender solidarity. It is an act of white racial bonding, and it is grotesque....

[B]lack folks would have sucked it up, like they've had to do forever, and voted for Clinton had it come down to that. Indeed, they were on board the Hillary train early on, convinced that Obama had no chance to win and hoping for change, any change, from the reactionary agenda that has been so prevalent for so long in this culture. They would have supported the white woman--hell, for many black folks, before Obama showed his mettle they were downright excited to do so--but you won't support the black man. And yet you have the audacity to insist that it is you who are the most loyal constituency of the Democratic Party, and the one before whom Party leaders should bow down, and whose feet must be kissed?

Your whiteness is showing.

ZennButtKicker: The piece, if it gets wide circulation, will piss off some people, but it's point is pretty clear. The crux of the arguement, and it is huge, isn't that there wasn't some sexism against Hillary (there was), but the source. Seems like everyone agrees the media was the major source, so not voting for Obama is a pretty childish way of "punishing" the media. If anything, all that is happening now is the media is milking the "angry-white-women-Clinton-voter" story for every last drop it can drain. I also love the part when he said that black people would have just sucked it up and voted for Clinton anyway, if Obama didn't win. That is a subjective argument, but there's a lot of compelling anecdotal evidence to support it (like polling data). Black folks for decades have supported less-than-optimal candidates simply because they were better than the GOP alternative. Also, its interesting to me that the discussion of race is tap-danced around so much. It is the very obvious 800lb gorilla in the room. I will assert that for every allegation of sexism there could easily be 2 or 3 allegations of racism. We all know that the GOP tactic is centered on making Obama out as the "radical Muslim with the funny name who isn't mainstream enough to be POTUS". In other words, he's got too much mustard and not enough mayo (an old expression my grandparents used). However, because Obama's campaign has been so disciplined and almost out of necessity must downplay the racism aspects of the campaign, no one outside the MSM and the GOP are really addressing it. At some point I'd really love one night where Obama isn't in "trouble" with Latinos, Jews, or white women simply because of the perceived racial tensions with those groups (in reality, polling data shows him with a lead amongst all those groups). I think the writing is tough, but the message is real clear, stop being mad at the wrong people. Fighting sexism, not many folks have a problem with that, but not supporting Obama and the Dems is surely the least effective way of fighting, in fact given McCain's history in some ways the cause of feminism is pushed backwards with him in office.

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