Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Question 1: Are you Black?

Question 2: Where did you get your research? Cuz it sounds like you've just been listening in a Burger King or a McDonald's!
- Questions posed to Prof. Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School,
author of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal

Listening to "Sales History," a Brian Lehrer show podcast, tickled me this morning. For one thing, I'm days and days late on the show (originally broadcast on 1.10), which shows you that I have subscribed to far too many podcasts in my love frenzy for "my pretty lady." ("my pretty lady" is my ipod, btw.)

The second thing, though, is that I feel the media is bringing out every Black dude with a degree or some money to share their thoughts on the thoughts of a "community" that is so large and diverse in its constituents that I don't think anyone really knows who they're talking about, or to, for that matter. The idea that a Harvard Law professor, or anyone else for that matter, really knows what "Black America" can or will do, think, or believe is a little crazy, because there isn't one Black America. As someone who grew up in South Florida, has family in the Deep South and the Caribbean, and has now spent a good amount of time in both Southern California and the Northeast, I can tell you that there is no one "blackness" in this country. And a black kid in San Fran is going to have a much different take on this election than one in Marietta, Georgia. No doubt about it. So why can't we just leave the issue well enough alone?

As the commentary around Barack's race continues to intensify, I don't know how I feel about the myriad media sources bringing in people like this Randall Kennedy dude (who is black, by the way, and whose research was, granted, not at all based on conversations overheard in fast food joints) or Shelby Steele (who is on a podcast I have yet to listen to).

I don't want to know what they think, and I definitely don't want them telling "White America" what I think for me. I'll do that with my vote, thanks very much.

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