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Chris Matthews is infected with racism (721 hits)

"I forgot that he was Black." The comment by Chris Matthews simply indicates how deeply rooted racsim resides in the white psyche. Unknowingly, Chris longs for some post-racial nirvana where we don't see race at all. In this non-existant world, equality and fairness emerge based on the "content of one's character." The first stage in this transformation is to close one's eyes in a room full of white folks, and imagine that the Black person speaking isn't Black. If we didn't know any better, we would think that he is just as good as us white folks. In fact, "For an hour, I forgot he was Black."

The problem with this longed for nirvana is that we have to live in the here and now. In this world race, and culture, and ethnic preferences, and nationalism -- as well as racism -- all exist. Subconsciously, as a product of white racist privelege, many whites cannot reconcile that Barack Obama can be "Black AND President." To be President, he must be some post-Black incarnation that is acceptable to the inner self of those infected with "white racist privilege."

Many whites have overcome the infection, or they have been vaccinated against overt hatred, and malice of heart. But the disease has not been eradicated. It is like recovering from an addiction. Recovery is never complete. One must battle the demons one day at a time. So it is with well-meaning whites like Chris Matthews. He didn't know he was infected until his mouth betrayed him, and then he spent more words trying to explain what he really meant than necessary.

As for me, I don't want anyone to EVER forget that I am Black. Accept me or reject me, complete with my Blackness. But don't erase my culture, my heritage, my color -- to fit some imagined post-racial notion that helps to absolve your white guilt.

Roger Madison
Posted By: Roger E Madison Jr
Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 5:51PM
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Let's not take Chris Matthews' comment out of context.

The first context is the background of Chris Matthews himself. He has always been a vocal supporter of equal opportunity and a strong critic of racisim. Just last week he hosted a special town hall meeting held at one of the HBCU's with a variety of prominent AFrican-American guests for an honest, in-depth conversation about racial issues. I saw it and thought it was excellent and much needed.

So--seriously--I do not believe that he actually forgot that a black man is actually a black man in the way you are suggesting. He didn't "erase his culture or herirtage" at all.

I hope you agree that a person's culture, heritage, history, color, race, religion or ethnic background is not a significant factor 24 hours a day. In some interactions it doesn't matter at all.

The second context is the situation. You have the President of the United States talking about solving criticlal problems we face as a nation. What I think he meant by his comment was that the President's ethnicity was not a significant factor in any aspect of that speech. There were plenty of other factors that were far more important. That is what everybody was focused on--the serious issues he was talking about.

So you forget about his physical attributes and his culture, heritage, history, color, race, religion and other ethnic factors for the moment and concentrate on the more imporant business at hand.

It doesn't erase any of it--it just moves it into the background because it is irrelevent to the situation.

Here is an example of what I mean. When I am with my two black (actually half black) grandkids, I don't think about their racial identity. I don't even notice it. In our relationship and interactions, it is just not a factor that is important enough to matter.

Of course, I KNOW they are two little black kids. It is impossible to "forget" that. That is the reality of the situation. But in our moments together, when we are playing and talking and fooling around and when they stay over and we are eating or I put them to bed or when we go out to the circus or to the park or to the beach, they are just Olivia and Chris and I love them.

I think what Chris Matthews means by "I forgot he is black" is that he was judging the President by the content of his character and not the color of his skin.

Don't you agree this is a good thing?

Besides--he has been one of those who often expresses admiration for our President. So, if he is judging the man by his character, he likes what he sees.

So, what's the problem?

Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 6:59PM
Richard Kigel
I am very familiar with Chris Matthews and his record of support for the President. My view is that he is not "a racist." What was interesting was how awkward he even became when he heard himself say that "For an hour I forgot that he was Black." Has he ever forgot that anyone was White? Would he even say such a thing?

I don't have a problem with Chris Matthews. I just noticed that something emerged that is a result of what I termed "infected" with racism. One of the indicators is the need to "not see Obama as a Black man." The ultimate purging of the infection would be to not see any color at all. In my opinion, that robs me of my identity.

There is no "post racial period" where only one's character is important. And that is not, I believe, what Dr. King intended when he spoke about judgiment of one's character. I believe he encouraged others to reflect upon the content of a person's character as the most important value judgment. I don't believe he intended that they should not see the person as a Black person. That is an important factor in the identity of the person.

The idea is not that if you see me as Black that makes you a racist. It is that you feel the need to NOT see me as a Black person to convince yourself that you are not a racist. That is where the infection lies. There is an underlying assumption that "You are not like the others. When I close my eyes, I don't even know you are Black."

My point is that even one with such a stellar record and sincerity of heart as Chris Matthews has to consciously rid himself of the inherited white racist privilege that has infected this country and its history. I'm not the one who was sensitive to the statement. Chris Matthews was shocked to hear his mouth utter those words.

Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 7:51PM
Roger E Madison Jr
Dear Roger:

Thank you for clarifying your point. This time, I agree totally with everything you said. I don't know if you saw any of that Town Hall conversation Chris Matthews hosted with Tom Joyner and a panel of African-American academics and journalists. They made essentially the same points you just made about the fallacy of "post-racial" thinking.

In my opinion, Chris Matthews is one of the good guys around journalism. Sometimes he blurts things out of his mouth without thinking--and he has to apologize. As you say, he isn't a racist. But, surely this was a dumb thing to say.
Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 8:57PM
Richard Kigel
Richard, I am happy we are on the same page. I did see the town hall meeting with Tom Joyner, and I applaud the effort to stimulate the dialog around race. We all have to get comfortable with our identity "as it is" and not as a mythical post-racial period where all is forgotten. We must face our collecive history together. Then work to solve the problems we can.

It is a pleasure to know you.

Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 10:09PM
Roger E Madison Jr
Richard wrote:
"...Sometimes he blurts things out of his mouth without thinking--and he has to apologize. As you say, he isn't a racist. But, surely this was a dumb thing to say. "

Actually it wasn't '...a dumb thing to say'.

It is what came out of his mouth because it is what he MEANT.

He caught himself and realized that he said what he meant OUT LOUD.

The good thing is he CAUGHT HIMSELF albeit a little too late with the cameras rolling. LOL!

We need to get away from thinking that one can somehow eradicate their socialized prejudices. Why shucks! Even in the Black neighborhoods, gatherings, social and corporate networks, we say such things as "I heard her on the phone and I didn't know she was Black. She sound White!". We say things such as
"Stop acting White" or "You're reading White books" and other such nonsense which isn't really nonsense ... yes ... really. Of course Blacks aren't intelligent and shouldn't go around trying to read Wuthering Heights or John Grisham.

We have been socialized and we all must make an individual conscious effort to heal ourselves every single minute of the day. And I believe that Chris is in the healing phase. That is a positive good thing folks!

Because shucks! guys, we are ALL guilty of socialized prejudices.

It is kinda like when I speak in front of large groups and someone says "I forgot she was a woman" as if our expectations is that a woman is not as intelligent nor articulate as a man somehow.

I have had one of my white girlfriends say with a straight face, "But Faith, you don't act Black". HUH? So sorry that I left my homegirl persona somewhere back in the 80's. LOL!

But I recognized that she truly believed that she said nothing wrong. She said what she thought. She said what she believed. It was simply up to me to point that out to her.

The internal dictates external actions and verbiage. And folks! Somehow I do not believe we will EVER eliminate that.

Why shucks! I have loads of biases. Don't get me started! And they are rooted in the way I was socialized.

Now about you men ... (wink...)

Tootaloo and of course ...

God Bless
Faith Sloan
Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 11:23PM
Faith Sloan
Hi Guys.

My Queen Mother emailed me this very disturbing yet compelling video.

I do not believe in coincidences but the video goes hand in hand with our discussion here.

See my blog. I also created a group on the topic to get us to start talking, then stop talking and freakin' ACT to stop our self-annihilation.

An interesting statement was made in that we will be the first group of folks on this planet to annihilate themselves. WOW!

God Bless
Faith Sloan
Friday, January 29th 2010 at 12:07AM
Faith Sloan
Excellent dialogue. I certainly understand what is/meant by "Not seeing him as Black!" Agreeing with you all, the understanding must be known as "Inbred Racism!" It sometimes cannot be helped of discarded as easily as one would like, yes?

However, It remains...he/we/she should be seen as Black, White, Brown, and whatever color that is described! The contributions that benefit us all are what counts, yes?

Statements do come out because it is/are meant...the truly righteous beings don't mean it, that's why they catch themselves. Why is that? Most were brought up that way...in households that practice the seperation and/or the difference between the races. The white folk(s) being at the top of the chain even though the so-called educated ones are aware that that is not the case. Why is it that the higher echlon is and has always been afraid of Black Folk? Not because they are portrayed as drug dealing-pimp pushing-dregs of humanity...that's taught on an ongoing basis...

It's because they KNOW THE TRUTH...AND IT IS/HAS BEEN KEPT FROM US AND MANY OTHERS! YES, WE ARE THE TRUE KINGS AND QUEENS...RULERS OF THE LAND(S)! Albeit, the hierarchy has been taken away...as well as traded for "SOMETHING SHINEY!

Peace and Love,


Friday, January 29th 2010 at 1:19AM
Gregory Boulware, Esq.
Hey Greg!
I don't know what you are talking about ... (being light here ...)

On my side of the planet, that hierarchy is live and well cuz noone can take anything away from me. I am QUEEN! FEEL MY RULE! LOL!

And yes, Queens like shiny things but they do not allow them to overrule their common sense where it will cause a big time de-throning.

Shucks! It ain't all dat!

And I am one to believe that the truth is out there and we can no longer use the 'excuse' that the truth is being held from us. We tend to be pre-occupied with tangibles and other day to day distractions that we simply MISS the LIGHT!

Yes the onus is on us.

Tootaloo for now!

God Bless
Faith Sloan
Friday, January 29th 2010 at 1:46AM
Faith Sloan
Brother Roger,
Matthews' comment isn't an issue in my opinion and deserves no apology. If perhaps more of us were rising up to the place where we need to be then perhaps comments like this would be a nonissue, eh?

Friday, January 29th 2010 at 10:15AM
Jen Fad
I'm sorry that you don't know what I'm tallking about, Sister Faith.

Peace and Love,


Friday, January 29th 2010 at 10:23AM
Gregory Boulware, Esq.
Thanks to all for the enlightened feedback. It is HARD to be BLACK IN AMERICA!

Friday, January 29th 2010 at 11:02AM
Roger E Madison Jr
Hello Jen,

I hope you don't mind that I share your "extended comment." I think you have helped to put this in perspective.

Honestly I'm scratching my head about the dialogue regards your blog re Matthews... The reason being is that I still don't see the big deal about what the guy (Matthews) said. I also wish we could all forget what color/race/ethnicity President Obama is. How is what this guy said any different than what I hear said for instance when people of color comment on a non person of color's dance moves? Hey for a moment there I forgot he wasn't Black? Can all Black people dance? Absolutely not... What about... that girl can blow meaning sing soulfully... Can all Black people sing soulfully? Absolutely not... How about the comment I read on another blog here about who would pay to see an All White Basketball team as if all White men really can't Jump (the person stated he wasn't serious about it but was a rhetorical question) but you get what I mean I hope... We, (African Americans) as a people are seen as being overly pampered in this country and to some extent I can see the reason people feel this way about us. There are people who have absolutely nothing who come here and make lives better than we who are natural born citizens of the land. Why is that? We have a lot of more growing up to do.

Your point is well taken. The issue is the "racist context" of all these remarks. Taken as "ethnic pride" the comments about dancing, or singing, or sports are no different that the pride expressed in a successful football program at a Big 10 College. Some schools have a legacy of success, and they use that success to promote their self-interests, i.e., the battle of the bands contests at HBCUs.

However, Chris Matthews' comments fall into that "flash point arena" where the inference is fueled by the historical racism in this country. The context is related to achievement, professionalism, intellect, and power. The power context of his remarks, in his words, "in front of a bunch of white people." The inference is that somehow a Black person has to be "post racial" to pull this off. That is only necessary if the "room full of white people are racists."

It goes without saying that Black people are more sensitive to these code words than others. We have struggled under this yoke of powerlessness for 400 years. I am not crying "poor us." I'm just saying that the "structural inequalities" have placed most of us at a disadvantage, and when one of us achieves the highest office on the planet we want all the propers that come with that achievement. Not to have it whitewashed by some post racial vision that "almost forgets he is Black for an hour." That begs the question about what that room full of white folks are thinking for the other 23 hours of the day.

Yes, we must get beyond this, but not by ignoring it. We must help Chris Matthews and others face their inner demons and then deal with the rest of us as we are.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Friday, January 29th 2010 at 11:22AM
Roger E Madison Jr
I honestly appreciate your gracious reply to my commments.
Friday, January 29th 2010 at 11:53AM
Jen Fad
Dear Roger:

Thank you so much for your incisive and deeply consdiered insights. You presented a tough issue in such a clear-minded way using the best critical thinking techniques available so that even I could understand your points!

Wow!!! Very insightful! Very impressive!

All I can say is "Thanks!"

Friday, January 29th 2010 at 4:47PM
Richard Kigel
I have a few choice words about you Black folks. And I have a lot of choice words about your White folks, Richard.

Here goes ...


Sometimes we are oh so sensitive to a non-issue that our ramblings causes it to be an issue.

So again, who is Chris and why is what he says of interest to me?

Just as many would say the same thing of me.

Do what you have to do to get what you want to get done.

I don't believe there's a yoke around anyone's neck.

Does there exist racism? Why of course!
Are people biased? Without a doubt! Me too!
Does barriers to success exist? In my life they have existed?

As a very very young girl, I embraced the philosophy that barriers exist ... there is status quo ... one step at a time ... act as a hurdler would and jump higher and run faster ... get to the point where you can truly be of influence in someone's life somewhere no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Live the Christian life (of course there will be some mucking up as we are mortals), Enjoy the Blessings by reaching out to RECEIVE them, and from your heart -- Bless others accordingly.

Chris who?

Faith who?

God Bless
Faith Sloan
Friday, January 29th 2010 at 5:01PM
Faith Sloan

That was PURE POETRY!!!

You managed to get to the heart of it in a few potent phrases and sentences.

And you finally concluded your song with two potent questions that put it all in perspective.

Friday, January 29th 2010 at 5:43PM
Richard Kigel
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