25 January 2010

Language Matters, part Harry Reid

I know I'm late to the post with this, but I've been thinking about it, and sometimes it takes a while for something to percolate its way through my brain.

Harry Reid has been quoted as saying that Barack Obama was electable because he is "light-skinned" and has "no Negro dialect unless he wants one". And the shit hit the fan.

Here's the thing: Pointing out racism isn't racist. The United States is a remarkably racist country. A dark-skinned African-American would have a harder time being elected than a light-skinned one. Similarly, a Black person with a Black English accent/dialect would not be electable. Harry Reid was absolutely correct. His mistake was using the term "negro". Now c'mon, I know the man is old, but he should know better. On the other hand, in his day, "negro" was the polite term. My Mom uses it, and I know she means no disrespect.

Harry Reid has never shown any indication that he is a racist; this doesn't change my mind.

He should have only apologised for using the wrong term. And Obama should have stepped up and said there was no apology necessary.

My $0.02.