Saturday, January 10, 2009

There They Go Again!

I just laughed when I saw the Times headline Trying to Change Its Face, G.O.P. Weighs a Black Chairman []. It seems the Republicans are playing the Race Card again. 

But it also got me thinking as I often have about the meaning of the Race Card in this society. I had similar thoughts when I saw that Illinois’ disgraced Gov. Blagojevich appoint Roland W. Burris to replace Obama in the Senate. That was a pretty cynical use of the card; but Burris was right in there playing his own version of the card, too.

Here are just a few of my questions:
  • Who gets to play the race card most often—blacks or whites? Let’s admit it, we all use the race card at some point. Sometimes it’s appropriate, isn’t it? For example, if we see someone being excluded from a position because people don’t understand their own blind racism, shouldn’t we play the race card to intervene in such a racially prejudiced situation? 
  • Of course, one can use the Race Card for racist ends. The RC was played to get on the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas, a man who is willing to cover up the negative impact of racism by showing his black face as a supporter of racism and the enemy of justice. Don’t we have to ask who is playing the race card and why?
  • Is charging someone with playing the RC sometimes a way to actually play the card? 

If I’m right that we all play the race card sometime and that it can be used for good or evil, shouldn’t we question the context in which the RC is played? It is not the playing of the Race Card that is in and of itself bad; perhaps it is how we use that it that matters.  

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