A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

John McWhorter. . .

. . .is a solid thinker and writer as far as I can tell. Though, I admit, I haven't read enough of his work to say so with any authority. In fact, I'm not even sure that I have the credentials to make that judgment. I'll leave that to others to decide and give my opinion anyway, since that doesn't require credentials of any kind.

Reading his piece in the New York Sun today, I have to confess to having a little trouble picking up what he was putting down. But, as I drew closer to the end, it struck me as a fairly uncritical way of saying that, indeed, it is a black thing, and I wouldn't understand.

The key to me was the following passage:
"If this is just political hardball, I get it. But I sense more to it. America prides itself on being ready for a black president lately. Well, in hearing Reverend Wright's agitprop as performance rather than hate speech, Barack Obama is black indeed — in a way other than the uninteresting one of melanin. Yet I see this as irrelevant to how he would run the country."

The passage indicates that one of the things that determines a person's "blackness" is whether or not that person perceives the language and tone of Jeremiah Wright's sermons as largely "schtick" or raw vitriol intended to incite anger and hatred among his parishioners toward their government and whites in general.

He seems to conclude that Obama's ability to discern the difference is part of what makes him truly "black", and that his own ability to do the same permits him to continue to support the idea of an Obama presidency. He also seems to conclude that whether or not America at large can draw that distinction will decide whether or not it will ever have a black president.

My only answer to that would be to say that Americans of every hue are perfectly capable of drawing that distinction, though not all. And, many of those who can draw the distinction aren't willing to do so for one simple reason: that even if it is pure showmanship, there are some performances that need to be decried, and Barack Obama's failure to do so when confronted with the performance is a sign that, when faced with the choice of standing up for the honor of the country he seeks to lead, or acquiescing to pressures placed upon him by his community to maintain his authenticity, he's left a lot of room for doubt as to which path he'll choose.

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