this is not a racist headline02 Oct 2009
Because I have to have an opinion on everything:
- AC Kleinheider wants to observe that Steven Turner can probably successfully challenge Mary Pruitt where Jason Powell couldn’t, because Steven Turner is black. Okay, so far, no racisms.
- AC does so by posting a video of Steven Turner with the caption “Is that Jason Powell in Blackface?”. *Insert sound of the needle scratching across the record here* Oops.
- AC, in his ever-frustratingly obstinate style, waits basically forever before explaining himself, leading to all kinds of turmoil.
- AC finally posts a long-winded explanation and apology. Contrary to the 239084234 prior comments hypothesizing on his intentions, the explanation seems (to me) to be that AC merely chose his words poorly – not really grasping what “black face” means. A sin, yes, but more forgivable than meaning (as Roger Abramson put it) “Hey, look here at the black politician video-slash-minstrel show.”
He probably could have avoided this by just posting a quick update. I’m glad he didn’t take the post down – there is integrity to be maintained with a blog like the Post’s. Chris Ferrell’s explanation at PITW is fine by me. I don’t really know what lesson(s) ACK will take away from this experience, but if I were him, the lesson would be “when I fuck up, explain myself quickly, rather than being a cryptic ass in the comments.” But I’m not him.
Interestingly, the comments on the post are revealing of a lot of various knee-jerk reactions to race:
- Is it racist to point out that a black candidate can win in a district where a white candidate can’t? No, it’s probably true.
- Is it racist to see nothing in Steven Turner’s candidacy but a “black version” of a previous candidate? Yeah, a little – at best, it’s vaguely insulting of ACK to assume that Turner has nothing else to offer. At worst, it reveals that ACK didn’t see anything else but a black face.
- Is it racist to ever reference blackface ever? Uh, no.
- Is it racist for a white man to reference blackface, because it’s “off limits”? Nnnope. Blackface is a thing that exists. As such, I reserve the right to.. uh.. talk about it? If ACK had come up with some witty bit of satire involving blackface, there wouldn’t have been such controversy (or at least, if there was, it’d be largely drummed up by idiots). He didn’t, though. It wasn’t funny, and even his intended humor had nothing to do with the sociohistorical context of blackface. He just fucked up and chose his word really, really badly. End of story.
I think my favorite result of this whole thing is a quote by Roger Abramson in the comments of ACK’s apology, wherein he’s doing his best to explain what blackface is and why it might have other implications (seriously, WHY does this still need explaining in this day and age? i have no idea):
If you would like an analogy, well, I honestly can’t think of one offhand. One of the difficult things about the black experience in America is that there really is nothing exactly like it in human history. Which is why this stuff gets so sticky.
5 stars, two thumbs up.