Friday, September 11, 2009

Otherizing Obama

The students and I are having some lively discussions about President Obama. College freshmen/women are born in 1991 and 1992, have absolutely NO memory of Civil Rights movement (their parents, born late 60s/early 70s are first post-Civil Rights generation), and grew up with MTV-ish reality show representations of diversity.

I've tried to argue that civil discussion about any politician's policies is a healthy part of a democracy. However, I've also tried to argue that the opposition we're hearing to President Obama is louder and more disrecpectful than ANYthing I've heard any U.S. president face in my lifetime (and I have vivid memories from Carter to present day.)

I argue that this opposition is part of mainstream America's "otherizing" people of color, in this case a black man, which makes it "easy" for people with opposing views to show blatant disrespect. We all otherize people -- we do it to women, Asians, Latinos, people with disabilities, immigrants, and gays/lesbians. So black men don't have a monopoly on being otherized.

I can only imagine the kitchen table discussions happening in the households of those who are "othering" President Obama. Imagining the "n" word being used (or thought of) frequently, while in the same sentence saying/thinking, "I have black friends... close black friends. I'm not a racist." I'd love to ask, "Well, have you asked your black so-called friends if they consider YOU a friend? Have you asked what they think of your opinions?"

Some good editorial pieces are emerging that I'm finding interesting.

He's President, He's Black, Get Over It

Is Conservative Obama Backlash The New Racism?

The Racial Context For Joe Wilson's Outburst

Joe Wilson -- This One's Too Easy

The Others

OK. Back to books, writing, shows, music, etc... later this weekend. Have a good Friday!

1 comment:

ToddyEnglish said...

You've summed it up eloquently. I no longer watch television simply because of that blatant disrespect being levied against the office of the President (a President who has not been in office even a year yet)is repulsive.
George W. Bush trampled the constitution by instituting the patriot act. Yet, where were these concerned citizens then?
Rhetorical question. No need to answer.
As it is I find it shameful that these people are recieving so much attention. Maybe if the media stopped giving them airtime they would go back to their trailer parks and smolder in silence.