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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Avoid the Race Card Game by Really Trying.

When discussions about political candidates bog down because of accusations of racism, the vetting of candidates becomes an almost impossible task. I believe there are ways to reduce accusations of racism when the charges of racism relate to the vetting of any political candidate.

If we limit our judgement about a politician's racial associations to people with the same ethnicity as ourselves, we limit the use of the race card.

In the case of Barack Obama and the 2008 democratic nomination race, and then the presidential race, when caucasians started criticizing Barack Obama for his non caucasian associations, they defused their own complaints about Barack Obama by giving Barack Obama supporters an excuse to use the race card.

African Americans can criticize Barack Obama and his associations with other African Americans if they believe the associations are unacceptable. It does not matter if a caucasian does not like Louis Farrakhan, what matters is if an association with Louis Farrakhan bothers african americans.

A caucasian can criticize Barack Obama for hanging out with caucasians that are of questionable character, such as Jamie Dimon of Chase bank.

When Jessie Jackson made his infamous comment about Barrack Obama and his alleged condescending speaking style towards african americans, the private comment at a public event was "caught" by a live microphone. If Jessie Jackson had been a different ethnicity then Barack Obama, there could have been accusations of racism over those remarks.

However, because an african american, (Jessie Jackson) was talking about another african american (Barack Obama), racism was never charged and the issue died down relatively quickly.

When the Clintons were charged with being racists in early 2008, what they could have done differently to deflect these ridiculous charges was to rely on their own african american supporters to defend both of them, and to also educate the Clintons on the racism nuanced line that they may have been unknowingly crossing.

The moment the Clintons spoke about historical african american politicians and how those politicians experiences related to Barack Obama, the Clintons opened themselves up to the possibility of the race card being used even if the assertions were ridiculous.

James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina congress person, rather than defend Bill Clinton against charges of racism, told Bill to shut up. Clyburn's "shut up" comment revealed himself to be a closet Barack Obama supporter.

Commenting about political relationships outside of one's own race is one sure fire way to bring race card game into a political battle and should be avoided.

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