I was going to include this in my weekly breakdown post, but realized it was going to be longer than a few sentences. I’ve bumped it up to post level.
I tried to stifle a groan and move on, but there’s been a dozen articles in response to some idiot taking up space at WaPo with an OpEd column who claims to speak for the GOP:
People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
I laughed, not because I think it’s funny, but because Richard Cohen is ridiculous and now because so many people have written responses to one little blurb, this guy is getting the most attention of his career. For the record, he has clarified he likes interracial couples and LGBT folks. White people with black friends can never be racist, afterall! And I’m sorry to add to it, but there’s a bigger point to be made. He speaks the truth according to how some people in this country think – whether they’re in the GOP or not. Whether they’re white or not. Whether they’re women or men. And they can all #haveaseat as the kids say.
So, let’s just get this out of the way: Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio is a white man in a position of power and authority married to a black woman and they both seem to actually like other black people outside their family. And have a brain. His campaign is based on PROGRESS, which one could argue is an executable version of CHANGE. Some people, whether they are conservative or not find the mere idea of an accomplished man running NYC who for all purposes appears to love his wife and children will be influenced by them while governing ‘America’s City’ threatening. Like former Mayor Bloomberg. And it is assumed they’re on some crazy “liberal” agenda of stemming the tide from the massive wealth transfers and rampant police abuse that have occurred across the board. And they don’t like it. And?????
These assumptions may not be the reality of what happens with this administration and we’ll have to wait and see what happens. We’ve been snookered by Trojan Horses before. Just look to the Oval Office right now. The other point is how “conservatives” love Clarence Thomas and men like him. And last time I checked his wife is white. So, where’s their “gag reflex”? We know how much men like Clarence Thomas hold other black people in contempt. We see how men like Skip Gates brag about their non-black DNA, but continue making the bulk of their earnings on projects that require black support. They are the “Acceptable Negroes” that are expected to maintain white dominance because they defer to “white superiority”. Spending lots of time and energy focused on any of them is not productive for those who want to move forward socially. Neither is blindly supporting them. Cohen’s remarks are misleading in their oversimplicity. This isn’t about “conservatives and their gag reflex” over random interracial couples, this is about fear of a power shift that favors black women (and their offspring).
There’s historical precedence at play here. They may be the example du jour, but this isn’t only about the de Blasios. Cohen only expressed a specific lurching and it’s one that’s distinctly anti-black woman racio-misogyny. Look how he threw in the dig about Chirlane McCray’s sexual orientation. And speaking of, she hasn’t discussed it. And it’s nobody’s business. Whatever relationship the de Blasios have, it works for them! We know the damage black on black racism and denigration does to black girls that McCray wrote so eloquently about in her poetry years ago.
Some people can’t get over the idea that a white man will love a black woman enough to marry her. Even in 2013. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. There were only two or three scenes from that fantasy movie ‘Lincoln’ that I found credible. During the fight to abolish chattel slavery with all the white men arguing for or against it vehemently, it became clear to me that it wasn’t only about the wealth it generated. Some of those men were fighting to have their “side” families recognized as legal and as potential heirs. One might argue about what free agency an enslaved woman had in making choices to enter into many of these “relationships” with these men, but it’s certainly reasonable to believe they all wanted any offspring produced to be freed. Getting an inheritance would have been icing on the cake. Also, there were free blacks who didn’t want to live under the threat of forced capture and enslavement. And still, there were the emerging sub-societies of those with part-white heritage who were referred to as (mulatto, octaroon, etc thanks to the “one drop” rule). While the movie depicts Thaddeus Stevens as principled and confirms a loving relationship with Lydia Hamilton Smith, replete with a scene of them in their bedroom reading over a copy of the Thirteenth Amendment, the reality may not have been as simple.
Yet, after slavery was abolished the anti-miscegenation laws that had been ratified by the Thirteen colonies beforehand, were effective in preventing many marriages between white men and black women, but not all. Go back to the ironic history of this nation. Killing others while fleeing from persecution. Knowing how human nature plays out despite prejudice and trying to prevent the “browning” of the nascent USA right out the gate. These laws were not struck down until the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967. And the kicker is how a full repeal of these laws wasn’t effective until 2001 when Alabama finally removed them. Now, sit on this for a minute. It was a white man who loved a black woman enough to marry her when it was ILLEGAL to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to get it overturned. He fought for nearly 10 years to see their marriage and their children validated. Because these laws were designed to contain a certain level of power to specific groups under specific circumstances. Wives and legitimate children benefit. Others do not. While we see unions between black men and white women more commonly today, it was a BLACK WOMAN who served as the impetus to get those laws changed. Everyone else continues to benefit from the sacrifices of African American women.
So…isn’t Cohen’s channeling GOP ‘hurling’ also about white women protectionism at the expense of black women being treated well? Or black women being seen as equal to and just as desirable as every other woman? Or the fear that more high-profile WM/BW will emerge? Statistically speaking, their marriages tend to be more successful overall, last longer and encompass a higher education and social class. From a pop culture perspective we can certainly ask if Scandal has already decided to destroy show canon with this new backstory on Mellie Grant and poison the well regarding “Olitz”. Despite it being lauded as helmed by a black woman, the agenda may undermine what people assumed would be a satisfactory end-game to fated star-crossed denied love.
Whatever vestiges of keeping black men and white women apart has long lost its purpose when we tally up the massive wealth transfer they’ve provided right back to whites, maintaining their dominance. A wealth that was usually achieved through work nurtured by black women under the assumption it would be reciprocated once these men became successful, but hasn’t been. Often black women are still thinking about doing rescue work in the black community even more because of the mass abandonment by black males, so any elevation she receives is likely to go assist others.
On the flip side of Cohen’s disgust with black women being made wives by powerful white men where patriarchy would benefit them, we have the blowback from the legacy of criminality via gangsta rap and making every black male a martyr or a victim as well as displeasure with President Obama creating this callousness about black women not being “women”. For some, they are every bit of the thug as your typical black male is viewed. Shoot first, ask questions later because you’re “scared”. And if you think this case is a slam dunk on either side, think again. But don’t be surprised if another jury (which may likely be mostly white and female) acquits any criminal charges. We’re not dealing with logic, but the irrationality of fear, competition and self-preservation. Neither of which will stop black men from racing to be white women.
When we have the very real threat to black women being harmed and treated as sub-human by the black community at large, black males in particular and newer stranger danger incidences as with Renisha McBride, the time for more black girls and young women to seek affirming relationships and to be protected has never been so important. As if these life and death situations weren’t frightening enough, we have this uptick in white women using black women’s images and intellectual property for profit and personal gain. We also have second wave post-BWE success anti-BW infiltration with a few black males expressing “concern” over tensions between self-identified black and white feminists and interjecting themselves into this discourse. As a woman, if you have any COMMON SENSE whatsoever, you do not LET the FOX in the HENHOUSE to stir up trouble. Any man who truly cares about the well-being of women GO TO OTHER MEN TO HANDLE IT. They don’t sit down for tea with the ladies (looking for cracks to exploit).
There’s a LOT going on right now!! Women who want to get ahead in life, take opportunities as they present themselves, vet allies and get away from leeches. So while Cohen’s fluttering stomach of projectile has been publicized, it doesn’t hold weight amongst individuals who decide they’ve met their ideal match in love and life. Do not let any of these things be a distraction or a discouragement to your achievement. Haters gonna hate. We do not need any white hegemony arguments obstructing more black women to go outside their four walls, or their block, or their city, or even their country to find and follow their bliss.