Can Minorities Be Racists?




My buddy often watches the news on the TV he has in his office while he eats his lunch, which means that I am apt to get hot and bothered phone calls from him right when I am trying to enjoy reading the paper in peace while eating my own midday meal.

"Hey man" he yelled into the phone yesterday, "can you believe this? They're calling Sotomayor a racist!"

He caught me before I'd read the New York Times, but it just so happened that I had perused a USA TODAY with breakfast, so I had an idea of what he was talking about. "Now you get to see what all those think tanks are really there for - to manufacture ideas and talking points and buzzwords to sway the political discourse."

"But a racist?" he said. "I thought black people - I mean, minorities - can't be racist."

"If you're looking for a definition," I said, "in my mind a racist person has to have power, or access to power. So, if you have an Attorney General who is black, what he says starts to mean something different than if he is just a guy in the public. Or the president. It used to be that we could count on being powerless to shield us, but now that things are changing, I don't think we can automatically say "black people can't be racist" anymore.

My buddy mused over that one for a minute before going to another topic. And just like that, I saw that the changes in the political landscape these past few months was starting to trickle down to our everyday lives.

What did Sonia Sotomayor say that has conservative talking heads calling her a racist?

"Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.

Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement.

First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise.

Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

From the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001, delivered by Sonia Sotomayor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law



It is this sentence - "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" - that has sparked the latest debate over our first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee. Within the context of the entire speech she gave, one could argue that she was simply trying to explain why her Latina identity is important. Professional spinmeisters who reside deep in the bowels of the Democratic Party machinery are hard at work right now trying to recast this statement in a way that makes its message more palatable.

I think she said what she meant, and she meant what she said - given that all other things are equal, the experiences gleaned from the perspective of being a minority in this country provide minorities with a broader knowledge base than that of a mainstream American. Almost every Downtown Brown I know feels that they have seen more of life than their white counterparts, even if they have essentially had the same upbringing.

When there was no way in hell any minority could be a state governor, or U. S. senator, or Attorney General, or Supreme Court justice, or the president of the United States, we could say things like Sonia Sotomayor said with impunity in our efforts to balance our own mental scales. Even though the reality is that most of us will never sit on the Supreme Court, or command the nation's military, or control the country's federal prosecutors, we are still as minorities going to have to begin to manufacture new ideas and talking points and buzzwords of our own in order to more accurately define our relationship to today's America.







Newsvine Digg It! Stumble Delicious Technorati Tweet It! Facebook

9 comments:

Lady Di said...

"Racist" come in a rainbow of colors and I've ALWAYS known this. When people say that someone is a "racist", I follow-up with "define". I don't want someone to say it and can't back it up. For instance, comedians are ALWAYS getting termed as being "racist"!??! "Uhmmm... if they joke on every race, color, creed there is, how is THAT 'racist'"?!?! I never get a reply... smh

kid said...

Can minorities be racist ? Ah hell naw.Prejudice yes, racist no. FOX can keep doging out Black people to X times infinity, no one in the so called MSM will say snap.

Rat Robertson and other white wing bigot are calling her racist.Their definition of a racist is anyone who help minorities.All I can say is keep it up boys and you will only have one Hispanic person in the Republiklan party left.

Justice58 said...

"What did Sonia Sotomayor say that has conservative talking heads calling her a racist?"


You mean...For this?

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life".





She spoke truth and shamed the devil! Let them stroke out. Ms Sotomayor will be a Supreme Court Justice!

Woo Hoo!

FreeMan said...

Look anyone with half a brain really knows what she means. It's just when the other side lines up they want to get the crowd into a frenzy before they bring out the noose. In this case we have Sexism and Racism but aimed at another race except Black people. I assume they believe this is going to get the other minorities to agree with them but they are the only people on this boat. You are watching the end of a era right before your eyes. You are watching a president with a staff who understands that competence can't be argued with and she fits the bill. Everyone knows what these guys are really getting at but no one wants to say it out loud. No one wants to say if this was a white lady they wouldn't care at all. No one is disputing her record they are cunningly disputing her race!

RiPPa said...

"we are still as minorities going to have to begin to manufacture new ideas and talking points and buzzwords of our own in order to more accurately define our relationship to today's America."

Brown Man, how you doin brother? I quoted the ending of your post because it kinda lost me. Can you explain to me just exactly what you mean. And you exactly do we as minorities come up with new talking points and ideas?

Brown Man said...

Rippa,

I'm trying to say that we need to update the type of language we use to describe the context of our relationship to the rest of America in 2009, because a lot of us are still using the idioms of the 70's, 60's, 50's and farther back, even though the world around us has changed.

Our president is black not because of integration, but collaboration. But a lot of our dialogue is still stuck in the integration era, when we first began to get a taste of what life in America without discrimination was all about.

We were extremely cautious, and slow to trust others, and very protective of our own belief systems - rightfully so, because there was no track record to go on, no way to know if this was really for real or not.

After forty years, I think we can let our guard down a bit.

RiPPa said...

Brown Man,

I seee what you're saying and yes it down make sense. I tend to think that much of it comes from a lack of leadership in this regard. Simply put, we have yet to form prophetic alliances to work for the good of all people of color and minorities.

Case in point: I have yet to hear anyone in leadership (whether assumed or not)speak out against much of this racially disparaging talk in reference to Sonia Sotomayor. To me it's almost just like how leadership said nothing and watched Clarence Thomas get confirmed, at the expense of the degradation of Anita Hill.

I think it's the same way with the LGBT issue of gay marriage. Many so called leaders are silent on this issue. Further holding a "lifestyle", or having it thrust into the dark when said issue in itself is indeed one of Civil Liberties; you know, something akin to the issue of civil rights and equality?

Monroe Anderson said...

I think you're on the right track with this one Brown Man. Our rhetoric no longer reflect the times. It was okay to bad mouth the white man when he had all the power and we had none.

Now that the equation has changed, we must measure our words. If it would sound bad coming out a white man's mouth, then we need to think hard about it before allowing it to come out of ours.

That's not to say, of course, that there aren't exceptions to the new rule.

Anonymous said...

As the world becomes ever more globalized, we are forced to rethink our assumptions. Whites make up less than 10% of the world's population. They are a global minority.

Post a Comment

opinions powered by SendLove.to
top