23 January 2008

Send Your Complaints To Toni Morrison

In the comments below, Skipper asks why Bill Clinton is called our first black president. The answer is, unfortunately, because of his disfunctions. The phrase comes from a Toni Morrison piece in the New Yorker:
African-American men seemed to understand it right away. Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President's body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and bodysearched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear "No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and--who knows?--maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us."

4 comments:

Bret said...

Well, at least I got the saxophone part right!

Anonymous said...

OK, so she made an insulting and condescending comparison of Bill Clinton's disfunctions to the stereotypical black man. The question becomes then why a black woman would think this was a compliment?

Harry Eagar said...

Morrison is silly, but even if you take her at her own estimation, then the first black president was Herbert Hoover.

Duck said...

No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us,

She left out raping white women.