Crystal Wright is an occasional contributor to The Root DC and is the editor of the political site “Conservative Black Chick.”.
Uh, oh. I thought only blacks elevated themselves to “the race police” calling into question other black people’s “blackness.” But now at least one white Republican seems to be jockeying for the job of the “black race police.” Republican Tim Graham of the Media Research Center mused on Twitter Wednesday he didn’t think MSNBC Karen Finney really looked black enough to be called “African-American.” MSNBC recently announced Finney will anchor a new weekend program.
“@TimJGraham: MSNBC touting Karen Finney as another African-American host. Would the average viewer be able to guess that? Or is Boehner a shade more tan?”
According to Graham, the new arbiter of a black person’s appropriate darkness is House Speaker John Boehner’s tanned complexion. If you, like Finney, or millions of other blacks whose complexion looks like hers, well you just aren’t black, according to Graham. I bet this is news to many blacks.
You can’t make this stuff up. At a time when the Republican party is trying to appear more welcoming to ALL Americans, inclusive, and attract more minority voters, Graham seems to be saying “we need be sure you’re really black.”
Blacks find the discussion of skin tone highly offensive because it reminds them of complexion war that still continues today. During slavery, slave owners treated light skinned blacks for favorably. After slavery ended, blacks discriminated against each other using the brown paper bag or ruler test to exclude any darker skinned blacks from social clubs, churches, fraternities and black colleges. If you were lighter than a ruler or a brown bag, you were “accepted.”
One would think Graham would have stopped at the first offensive tweet. But he continued. Political columnist Eric Deggans asked Graham if a person definitely had to look “non-white” to be counted as an ethic minority. Graham said no but it must be “self-evident” the person is black.
“@TimJGraham @deggans No, it counts. Didn’t mean to say MSNBC doesn’t get credit for diversity. Just saying it’s not so self-evident.”
I would love Graham to define what makes a person self-evidently black? Is it the same standard that makes a person white? I wonder if Graham questions white people’s whiteness like he does blacks’ “blackness”?
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of MSNBC because it’s an ultra left leaning news network. But while I don’t agree with Karen Finney’s politics, no one, black or white has any business telling her she’s not black enough. Some of my followers on Twitter don’t like it when I talk about race. They frequently tell me “we’re all Americans” can’t we just stop dividing each other by race? Sure we can when people like Graham stop asking blacks for their proof of race cards and telling us how dark we need to be to call ourselves black.