It wasn’t too long ago that President Barack H. Obama swept into the White House on the tide of a push for change.
To the world, Prez number 44 was seemingly the antidote to all of our secret American problems with race. The son of an African man from Kenya and a White, American woman from Kansas – Barack seemed to typify the country at its best.
At the height of his popularity, during the Fall of 2008, homeboy was pulling in multi-cultural crowds that only rock stars could dream of and was so wildly popular that certain segments of the population felt he had cast some kind of magical spell over Americans.
After all, just about 50 years prior, most Blacks were not legally allowed to vote, and here comes this Obama, who is bi-racial, winning the presidency?
So racism is over – right?
Obama was praised because he accomplished becoming President without harping on one of the scariest words in the English language – “race.”
See in America, no one is a racist. In fact, even when people say racist things, you can’t ask them about it or talk about it or you’re seen as just too sensitive or a reverse racist.
“Get over it,” they say. “Slavery ended a long time ago.” Or “Why are you playing the Race Card?” they ask.
The only problem is the mythic card-o-race seems to have no power for the minorities who could use it.
For those who use it, “the Race Card,” is a term that refers to trivializing any legitimate racial concern by just screaming racist for everything. However, these days it seems, separating the legitimate concerns from the fictional ones is getting harder and harder to do.
For the ancestors of Black slaves, this schizophrenic Game of Race began years ago when we were first chained and brought to Europe and America.
Slaves were seen as animals, chattel and less than human. Yet their enslavers found the time to engage in “bestial” sexual relationships with female slaves. The off-spring of those trysts often were classified as “Black,” due to the one drop rule that states one drop of Black blood in a person makes them Black – and thus began the Game of Race.
Despite delivering one of the best speeches addressing the issue during the campaign, President Obama was never accused of “playing the race card,” despite being named the first African American to win the US presidency, regardless of being both Black and White.
Panned by many for a lack of focus on the topic, the President chose to not participate in any of these games – but exactly what is the name of the game that one would be playing when they plunk down the race card?
Pin the tail on the racist?
Duck, Duck, Bigot?
Oh snap, there I go again – playing that dang card – sorry.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll call it: “The Game of Race.”
No one actually seems to know the game’s true name, because whenever someone who is oppressed by racism or even points out the possibility that something may be racist – they themselves are deemed “it” and therefore a racist.
The President has fended off some of the best hands of this mysterious game in history. He’s been portrayed as a monkey, a holiday song was written casting him as a “magic negro,” and most recently a campaign to get him out of office begged to not “Re-Nig.” by re-electing him.
Every outrageous assertion is always quickly followed by a million apologies and ignorance of any wrong doing, let alone, admittance of racism. The nation’s Chief Executive rarely takes the bait because even he knows he cannot win in the Game of Race.
Ask all of the minority men, who fill the prison system more so than any ethnic group, they haven’t seen anything that could be perceived as a championship by playing this game or dropping the race card.
For the common man, the Game usually starts with the police, when they are pulled over in their cars, seen as threatening greater society by walking down the street wearing scary hoodies or reaching into their waist bands for something that could be perceived as a weapon.
All three questionable acts are usually met with a hail of bullets.
I guess, when it comes to an unarmed minority, shooting first and asking questions later is always safer than meting out justice.
Nowadays, even the local neighborhood watch guy is getting involved.
In Stanford, Florida George Zimmerman, a neighborhood -watch captain, shot an unarmed, 17-year-old, Black teen, Trayvon Martin and called it self-defense. Zimmerman, who has not been charged or arrested, admitted to the shooting after he trailed the suspicious looking Martin, who was armed to the teeth with Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea.
Oh yeah, he was wearing one of those menacing hooded sweatshirt that scares the likes of Geraldo Rivera (please see the video below).
However, with countless unarmed men of color being killed every month at their bachelor parties, in their bathrooms or just for wearing a hooded sweatshirt, the game is obviously in full swing and it’s somehow never appropriate to throw out that all important Race Card.
From the street to the Oval Office, whenever someone finds themselves in the middle of a game of race, questioning the practice of the possible racist is never the best bet, because you then become the racist for questioning the racism of the possible racist.
Don’t believe me?
This week President Obama was accused of “race baiting,” by conservative politicians for calling for a thorough investigation into the Trayvon Martin murder. Newt Gingrich said he was disgusted by the President’s comments, which pointed out that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon.
Conservative pundit Sean Hannity asked rhetorically, “Is the President suggesting that if it had been a White who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him?”
The other night, actor Robert DeNiro was questioned for not being called a racist when he made a joke involving First Lady Michelle Obama. While at a fundraiser – DeNiro rhetorically asked whether the country was ready for a “white first lady,” given the field of GOP candidates.
The next day, even conservative wingding Ann Coulter was shocked at the race card being played on DeNiro, who is white. She wrote off the media outrage as a chance for conservatives to act as outraged as she said liberals usually do.
As we all march in lock-step toward the November elections, it appears it’s “Game On!”
In the African American community, at least, many will find themselves as game pieces in the game all without the ability to throw that all powerful “race card.”
For others, they will continue to believe that this trump card is thrown out to end every imaginary argument about race that never takes place.
Be it hanging at the end of a rope, being dragged through town on the back of a bumper or being shot down without a weapon, or just questioning what appears to be two separate sets of rules, we just can’t seem to stop playing the game of race.
Until there is meaningful dialogue on our problems with race, it appears the victims will continue to be seen as the aggressors in a nation where overt, disgusting, hurtful, racism is treated as a game.