Ben Carson and Cornel West are polar opposites, ideologically, politically, socially. But they are kindred spirits when it comes to their disdain for President Obama. For these guardians of blackness, the first African American occupant of the Oval Office is not black enough. Better not tell Virginia McLaurin, the 106-year-old who was so excited to meet “a black president” that she danced her way into our hearts.
Carson’s presidential campaign is so anemic that a tear dropping into the ocean causes more waves. Yet he had time to crack wise on the president’s upbringing during an interview with Glenn Thrush. He told the ace Politico reporter and podcaster that he “did not” derive any joy out of Obama’s election.
Carson: I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but I also recognize that his experience and my experience are night-and-day different. He didn’t grow up like I grew up by any stretch of the imagination.
Thrush: That’s right.
Carson: Not even close.
Thrush: He’s an “African” American as opposed to an African-American.
Carson: He’s an “African” American. He was, you know, raised white. Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.
“Raised white”? The very phrase is so enraging that I’d spit nails if I could. This putrid nonsense comes from the same person who whined earlier in the interview that the way he’s treated by the left is racist. “Because they assume because you’re black, you have to think a certain way,” Carson griped. “And if you don’t think that way, you’re ‘Uncle Tom,’ you’re worthy of every horrible epithet they can come up with; whereas, if I weren’t black, then I would just be a Republican.”
The mind reels with pots and kettles.
“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West said. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white…When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.”
“Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive,” West said. “He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”
“A young brother who grows up in a white context”? This is blacker-than-thou idiocy masquerading as intellectual thought. And lazy thought at that. What West said then and continues to say is part and parcel of the pernicious “othering” of this president favored by far-right racists to delegitimize Obama.
Culture commentator Touré nailed it nearly four years ago in a book he wrote, whose overarching theme was “to attack and destroy the idea that there is a correct or legitimate way of doing blackness.” There never has been and there never will be. Anyone claiming otherwise or handing out honorary Black cards to those who pass muster are part of the problem they claim to want to solve or don’t see.
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