Man of the (White) People (or, “Seriously, WTF?”)


By now you’ve probably heard that Ralph Nader has accused Barack Obama of “talking white”.

It would appear that what Nader means is that Obama isn’t focusing exclusively on issues that affect the poor (i.e. “black” issues), like payday loans, asbestos, and lead.


First of all, Obama can’t really help speaking white. SINCE HE’S WHITE. Or, at least, he’s arguably far more white than he is black. Second, why does Nader get away with being such a colossal racist?

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Man of the (White) People (or, “Seriously, WTF?”)

  1. This should actually be part of Authenticity Watch. Nader is falling into a very common fallacy, especially in the United States but also elsewhere: that there is an authentically black way to talk, dress, regard authority, conceive public policy, and so on. If you’re not on the lookout for that fallacy, it’s very easy to succumb to it. The counter-argument is that, since African-Americans are, as much as Irish-Americans or anyone else, heirs to *all* of the American experience, not only is no aspect of American cultural life denied to black Americans, it’s grotesque to even try to rope off some parts of American life as “authentically black.”

    It is helpful (if often infuriating, for all kinds of reasons) to read Stanley Crouch on these topics. Early on, when Michael Jackson’s nose-narrowing, hair-straightening and skin-bleaching was causing all sorts of uproar, Crouch wrote a magnificent essay in the Village Voice arguing that Michael Jackson, as much as anyone else, was free to do as he liked with his manner and appearance. It was especially touching because Crouch *hates* Michael Jackson’s music and, one would have thought, would be looking for an excuse to dump on him.

    Of course these questions about what’s black and how much of one’s background should inform one’s life choices are inherently thorny, controversial and eternal, and not only for people of African descent, and not only in the USA. Charles Mingus used to be told he was too light-skinned to know anything about the blues, though he learned early to play the bass in a way that left no doubt on that score. I doubt you’d have to go far to find African-Americans making the same arguments Nader made, although probably not in sufficient number to cause serious trouble for Obama.

  2. Haven’t we learned to stop judging policies and politicians on anything but their merits?

  3. It has nothing to do with authenticity. Nader is allowed to get away with shit like this because no one cares about him.

    He’s probably saying this stuff because he’s desperate for someone, anyone, to pay attention to him the way they did in 2000.

  4. Hang on…who says Nader is getting away with it? Every blog and message entry I’ve read calls him out as an out-of-touch racist.

    If the MSM is ignoring this, it’s because that’s the default relationship between the MSM and Ralph Nader.

    Anyway, I think Obama should adopt a Kenyan dialect. Maybe Russel Peters can coach him.

  5. Well let’s see, last summer Barack was not black enough apparently to appease the black voting community. Then, Barack was too black to win supporters in working class states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Now, he’s back to being too white again.

    I figure at this rate, by November Barack will be simultaneously be too black and white for anybody to like, excluding the millions of Hispanics who hate black and white people, thus helping Barack win Florida and the election.

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