W.E.B. DuBois reminded us in his dictum that the “problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” something that is not lost on the memory of a lot of people, but not for those who are living in their own version of George Orwell’s “Sugarcandy Mountain,” depicted in “Animal Farm” as a place with no problems and an abundance of every necessity.
But the rest of us who are not in denial understand and know all too well that racism is the child of America’s birth defect — slavery — and continues to be a major issue in an ever-evolving union seeking to be viewed as colorblind in light of the election of the first African American president.
That is why news of Republican Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry owning an exclusive family ranch in
After the Washington Post broke the story about how Perry in his early political days took lawmakers and other leaders to the ranch, the Republican candidate offered a very late apology for a word that is innately offensive to African Americans, and a throwback to the dark days. The right wing attack machine, in typical fashion, began attacking the Post reporter, claiming she has a history of writing racially charged stories.
But that’s beside the issue because the ranch exposed to the nation is now part of Perry evolving biography on the national stage and he can’t run away from that. Just as presidential candidate Mit Romney can’t run away from the health care law he created in
While Perry quickly came out and condemned the past name of the ranch, stating that it’s been painted over, his problem is he never came forward to admit it previously, Maybe we may get a race speech from Perry just as candidate Obama was forced to do at the National Constitution Center during the 2008 campaign at the height of the Jeremiah Wright scandal.
Perry cannot deny his past. He has bragged about his upbringing in an exclusive White environment in the South and how that has influenced his strong conservative values.
But to be the president of the
That explains why the Republican Party is fretting over the ranch scandal because it is a sordid reminder of conservative stalwarts who unashamedly in the past used racism and the Southern strategy as a trump card for national office.
Though I have no reason to believe that Perry is a racist, he must come clean and admit whatever is in his past and move on. Just as candidate Obama admitted in 2008 in his race speech that his White grandmother had fear of Black men, this is Perry’s moment of truth to not only explain the ranch, but also the latest story about his support of Confederate symbols in the past.
The man seeking the highest office in the land must offer more to the nation than symbols of slavery like Confederate flag license plates. While the politics of the Confederate flag will help Perry get some votes in the deep South, it still makes him appear like a candidate who belongs to the Old South. In essence, the more silent he is on an issue that has been the defining point of America’s struggle for civil and human rights, the more he belongs to the past.
And how can a nation that prides itself as a paragon of the ideals of justice seek to elect a man president who’s allegedly shown tolerance for racially hurtful symbols?
The idea that
The Perry campaign tried to diffuse the story by stating that Perry hired more African Americans in
The Christianity in Perry — he has branded himself the evangelical candidate in the race by organizing a 30,00 strong prayer rally before he announced his candidacy — biblically requires him to defend the poor, the weak and the oppressed.
And in doing so he must identify with the issues that affect the vulnerable and oppressed communities. Structural inequality is still an ever present problem that must not be swept under the rug. There comes a time when you have to stand face-to-face with the truth.
Herman Cain, the lone African American Republican presidential candidate in the race, condemned Perry, calling him “insensitive” when news of the ranch reached him. But Cain, after receiving a verbal whopping from conservative media leader Rush Limbaugh, quickly dismissed the issue, stating he was fine with Perry’s one-line apology statement.
That raises questions about the sincerity of Cain’s original statements and whether he was just politicking the issue, after a week of calling most African Americans “brainwashed” for being loyal to the Democratic Party. Rick Perry should do us all a favor by coming clean on the ranch and the Confederate flag license plate proposal issues. He should man up and step to the podium and give this issues the time and attention they deserve, as would be required of anyone who wants to be the next leader of the free world. It just makes sense.
Chronicle senior editor Bankole Thompson’s latest book on religion and politics is titled “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” with an epilogue written by Robert S. Weiner, former White House spokesperson under President Bill Clinton. The book, whose foreword is written by Bishop P.A. Brooks, guest chaplain of the 102nd Congress, will be launched Nov. 12, 10 a.m., at the