Race still matters
Radio host and hip-hop activist Davey D on Barack Obama’s candidacy and race
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: Does Obama mean this issue of race is over in America?
DAVEY D, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that’s a smokescreen. Obama never said that. So the question is: Who said this? I think it’s disingenuous when they use Obama’s success and his ability to connect with people above and beyond those barriers to dismiss some of the problems that some of these very people have caused.
JAY: There’s always been willingness in America, at least for quite some time, to accept a black celebrity, especially a light-skinned black celebrity. Does the acceptance of Obama mean any more than that?
DAVEY D: No. Nowadays we have celebrity culture, unfortunately. And within celebrity culture means reducing all people into one and two dimensions. So black people can no longer be scientists, teachers, articulate individuals, political analysts, or anything like that; they can only be rappers and ball players, and that’s that. And anybody who steps out of that box, in this case like a Barack, somebody will be, like, well, you know, is he an exception to the rule? No. He’s the rule in my community, and I’m from the hood, you know? Yeah, that is the norm in the Harlems, in the South Bronx, in the East Oaklands. You know, we have those stereotypes in existence, but so do every other community. And maybe we have more to our proportion than some other ethnic groups. But I think the overwhelming majority are like me, they’re like my mom, they’re like my cousins. And Barack is a celebrity in the context of where we are now. We deal with celebrity culture, and you’ve got to be a celebrity to have any sort of success. If he didn’t have that rock star charisma attached to him, it wouldn’t be the case. If he didn’t look good and smell good, come across good—. Somebody made a decision to put out the remarks that you say—you know, race is over, and, you know, this is proof of this. You know, they said that ten years ago when Oprah announced that she was a billionaire. There’s no problems. She can do it; you can do it. And, you know, Katrina, and Jena Six, Sean Bell, and numerous other police shootings have taken place since, you know, Oprah has announced that she’s a billionaire, and we had these same conversations several years ago. So my point being is that when I hear this, I’m very critical in the sense of who exactly is saying this, and then I want to hone in: well, if Bill O’Reilly’s saying it, his opinion don’t count in the matter, ’cause he constantly resurrects racial stereotypes and plays the race card. And I’m using him as an example. And a lot of other people do that.
JAY: Do you think if Obama was a very dark-skinned African-American that he’d be where he is?
DAVEY D: Yeah. I mean, you know, Jesse Jackson had a successful run in ’84. The only reason why he didn’t get to go the full distance was because of the "Hymietown" remark. Then that became an issue. You know, will we accept black folks? And he was proving, as he was running in ’84, that that was a possibility.
JAY: Do you want to hear more from Obama about race?
DAVEY D: I think when it’s appropriate, yes. I think he should have been more out there on Jena Six. I would have liked to see him down there. I think I would have liked to see him speak out more forcefully about Katrina, because race was so undeniable in those situations. And to downplay it and distance yourself from it is an indication that race really does matter, because if race really didn’t matter, something as egregious as that, you would speak about it, you would slam it out, and you would say, "This is an example that embarrasses us all," and everybody would be on point. But, you know, if you’re concerned about talking about Jena and bring up the racial component of Katrina, and bring up the racial component because it’s going to anger some white folks in middle America, guess what? Race still matters. We’re at a point in time where people who are in power have embedded themselves so much in the power structure that they can actually afford at this point in time to have a black president, have a black person like Oprah have a billion dollars, have a Puffy and a Jay-Z, and still maintain their power.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.