Sunday, October 23, 2011

NY Daily News: Herman Cain a Form of "Minstrelsy"

The word "irony" is oft over-used in today's political landscape.  However, there is nothing more ironic than someone lecturing a black man about being "black."  That is exactly what happened in today's New York Daily News.

In an article entitled Herman Cain's use of racial language is rhetoric we must refuse, writer Ulli Ryder denounces Mr. Cain and, most specifically, his way of speaking.

With such an article, one would assume that Mr. Cain had to have said something extremely racially charged or bigoted. Instead, Ryder attacks the GOP candidate for using two words: "shucky-ducky" and "cornbread."

Ryder states:
So why the "cornbread" and "shuck-ducky" talk?

Here's one reason: Black people have been the victims of stereotyping for the vast majority of our nation's history...

I see the very real and troubling possibility that Cain's use of vernacular, and his casual assertion of a desire to be called "Cornbread," may be ploys to put potential donors — many of them wealthy conservative whites with few, if any, ties to any black community — at ease. The fact is that Cain has been relying on the support of his conservative, wealthy allies, many of whom have political goals that are diametrically opposed to those of most black Americans, who tend to be troubled by economic inequality and favor more income distribution.
There are several inherently wrong statements in this previous paragraph.  First, conservatives do not have "political goals that are diametrically opposed to those of most black Americans." This nonsense is merely a talking point based in no facts what-so-ever (as you can probably see, as the author cites none).

Second, I do not believe that I have ever heard Mr. Cain use the phrase "cornbread," even though I have been following his campaign for half a year.  Clearly he is not demanding that everyone call him cornbread, and even if he decides to use the phrase, I do not think anyone would think twice.  Except for Ryder, of course.
Herman "Awesome" Cain
But the author's attack on Mr. Cain does not stop at attacking random words he used.  Instead, Ryder uses her own, extremely charged, racist language, writing (emphasis mine):
So when I hear Herman Cain playing up the stereotypes of my grandparents' black speech for white audiences, I get offended. We whose families fought hard, over generations, to get a decent education for our children and their children shouldn't make light of the kind of language (tied to discrimination) we have worked to move past.

I stand by my claim that Cain's speech is like a form of minstrelsy. This is very different from President Obama, who some say speaks "black" when in front of all-black audiences. In Obama's case, the use of folksy speech tells his audience: "I am like you and I understand you." For Cain, the effect is the opposite: "I do not look like you and I am not a threat to you."
I am sorry, but if someone told me that one person said the word "cornbread" and another person called a black man a "minstrel," I know who I would call a racist.  And it is not Herman Cain.

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1 comment:

  1. This author must not have lived in the south.
    The term Cornbread is used for the common man- weather he's black or white.

    "Yo, cornbread-I need a bucket of sand in this ditch."