Didn’t you, for a minute, believe somebody was just kidding, trying to tell a weak joke, when you first heard that two attendees at the Republican National Convention had thrown peanuts at a Black CNN camerawoman, while saying, “This is how we feed animals”?
Seriously … didn’t you say to yourself: “Stuff like this simply doesn’t happen anymore. After all, this is 2012, we have a president “of color,” and we’ve moved deeply into the post-racial era, here in America.”
Wasn’t that your first reaction?
I must admit, for about two seconds, I was shocked and disappointed. It felt like I had been strapped into Mr. Peabody’s old “way-back machine” and transported, kicking and screaming, back to “1930s America,” when, folks say, things like that happened all the time.
No, this wasn’t 1930. It was last week, in Tampa, Fla., at the Republican National Convention.
In all of that, I was delighted, however, by the composure and the insightful response from the victim, the 34-year-old Alabama native, Patricia Carroll, who told a blogger from the Maynard Institute, “This is Florida, and I’m from the deep South. Come to places like this, you can count the Black people on one hand.
“I hate that it happened,” she continued, “but I’m not surprised at all. The situation could happen to me at the Democratic Convention, or standing on a street corner. Racism is a global issue.”
Ms. Carroll then concluded: “No, it doesn’t feel good. But, I know who I am. I’m a proud, Black woman. A lot of Black people are upset. This should be a wake-up call for Black people … people were living in euphoria, for awhile. People think we’ve gone further than we have.”
I’ve been watching CNN for quite awhile, now, and I don’t remember hearing anything more straightforward or honest from any of the network's pundits or commentators, Black or white.
Maybe it takes our Black on-air talent being “popped in the head” with peanuts before they, too, find the courage to speak truthfully about such issues.
It seems that the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) should certainly take up Ms. Carroll’s cause and support her in the event that her employers have been disenchanted by her honesty. Maybe the NABJ can do that at the same time that it continues its fight to desegregate the panel of journalists that has been announced to participate in the upcoming presidential debates.
Who would have thought this would still be an issue, with the Commission on Presidential Debates being headed by a former National Republican Party chair and a formal National Democratic party chair, or that Team Obama would sit by quietly and allow a recent pattern of inclusion, in these activities, by Black journalists, to be discontinued? In 2004 and 2008, for example, African-American journalist Gwen Ifill, of PBS, moderated the Vice Presidential debates. In 1988, Black CNN anchor Bernard Shaw moderated a Presidential debate and, in 1992, Black broadcast journalist Carol Simpson moderated one of the debates between the presidential candidates.
Does this mean that Black people are no longer important to the political process? Or is it that the Commission simply “can’t find a qualified Black journalist” who can do the job?
I wonder what the good camerawoman Patricia Carroll thinks about that issue. Hell, I wonder what Mitt Romney and Barack Obama think about it.
I’m sure that, if we asked her, we’d learn that Ms. Carroll also “hated” several other things that took place at the RNC, beyond peanut-throwing and blatant name-calling.
For example, I wonder what Ms. Carroll thought when she heard that the Republican Party, whose event she was assigned to cover, had 2,286 delegates and approximately 2100 alternate delegates … but only 47 Black delegates, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
By the way, let me remind you that, as recently as 2004, the GOP Convention boasted 167 Black delegates.
I wonder if Ms. Carroll knew, as she headed off to cover the Convention, that Bloomberg Business Week recently reported that 87 percent of registered Republican voters — nation-wide — are white, as compared to 61 percent of registered Democrats; and that the Democratic Party is also comprised 10 percent of Hispanics and 21 percent of Black voters.
With all of that as evidence, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Republican Party has lost significant interest in Black voters. But, you couldn’t tell that from the complexion of the Convention speakers. Right on cue, out came a mind-numbing series of predictable, unabashed, party-line-clinging presentations from the country’s few, Black and Hispanic GOP luminaries.
There was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Then there was former Alabama congressman, former close Obama friend, former Democrat, former intelligent Black man, Artur Davis. There was someone named Mia Love, of Haitian heritage, who was introduced as mayor of the 16,000-person “city” of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and as a Republican candidate for Congress, in her state.
More than all of that, it seems, the otherwise innocuous Ms. Love was clearly rolled out, as an apparently Black woman, to make clear that, through all the “success” she has experienced, she “never took a handout” from the government.
Talk about “coded language …”
Was that supposed to be a message to America’s Black females, that they should all immediately remove themselves from the welfare rolls? Were we supposed to think, having heard it from the now-infamous Ms. Love, that this whole “government handout thing” was one of the main, self-imposed impediments to Black economic growth?
“Government handouts” don’t seem to bother members of America’s highly compensated banking industry, at all. In fact, didn’t they pull down $800 billion in “government handouts,” in early 2009? Didn’t somebody tell Ms. Love that the “family and children” line item of the Federal Government’s “welfare budget” amounts to just $113.5 billion, by comparison?
Did someone bother to whisper to Ms. Love that more than 60 percent of the country’s welfare recipients are not Black? If none of that happened, then what was the point of Ms. Love’s empty comments?
I also wonder what Patricia Carroll thought about Republican Governor John Kasich’s remarks at one of the panels at the RNC, where he was quoted as saying that Blacks should “come off the streets” and become small business owners?
Quick! Somebody, please, throw a whole bag of salted nuts at Governor Kasich. Maybe it will knock some sense into him and remind him to get more strongly behind Black entrepreneurial interests, when he returns home, to Ohio.
It would also be good to know what Ms. Carroll thought of Mitt Romney’s long, aimless speech … especially the early parts of it wherein he kept stressing that all Americans' parents and ancestors had come to this country seeking “freedom.”
Clearly, Romney didn’t have Carroll, or the handful of Black delegates, or the millions of Black slave descendants in this country, in mind when he said that.
Then, again, maybe he never does.
Finally, I wonder what in God’s name Ms. Carroll thought of the unscripted, unannounced comments of Clint Eastwood. The audience, which wanted so much to be supportive of him, seemed to be, at the same time, absolutely terrified that “ol’ Clint” would say some things that would embarrass himself, and the entire Republican Party. So, they hung on his every, rambling, word and breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief, when he finally led them in his trademark phrase, “Go ahead ... make my day,” and moved off the stage.
Actually, “good ol’ Clint” would probably have done better to dig up one of his other more self-descriptive quotes in ending his impromptu speech: “I tried being reasonable, I didn’t like it.”
Many of us would have understood.
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.