Chris Matthews made the “mistake” of saying that he forgot the President was Black after last night’s State of the Union address. This is coming from an Obama-lover, a fanboy, if you will. I somehow highly doubt that Matthews meant that statement in the way that most critics seem to have taken it but it does raise another interesting question among the millions of queries raised since Obama’s election and, thereby, since race and racial politics became a part of dialogue among the nouveau political.
Matthews’ full comments:
I was trying to think about who he was tonight. It’s interesting: he is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he’s an African American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is president of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard. A very subtle fact. It’s so hard to talk about. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound that way. [Source: Huffington Post]
This is a complicated and tricky question. Does “forgetting” someone’s Blackness make them inherently racist? Does it make them a white supremacist, a person who believes that the default racial setting for all intelligent and articulate human beings is white? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?
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At what point does it suddenly become politically incorrect to invoke the race of the President as something to be lauded? I mean, wasn’t that what we were ALL celebrating when he was elected? Now, it seems, that anyone still marveling at the fact that a Black man stands before Congress to give a State of the Union is “hung up on race.”
Still, on the other hand, I can understand how a hyper-racially-aware public can become inflamed over Matthews’ comment. I get that his show is live and all, but why not just avoid the whole topic of race altogether? If the point Matthews was trying to make was that “we’re beyond race” what is the logic of bringing it up in that context?
America is a fascinating place. What are your thoughts on Chris Matthews comment? Just curious…