In the Old South, there were “good” black folks and “bad” black folks. The good ones doffed their caps, smiled broadly, even did a little Stepin Fetchit dance (photo above, left) when the occasion called for it. I remember some people like that back in Jamaica, too. They would happily bad-mouth their fellow black Jamaicans to ingratiate themselves with the Colonial “white” folks who ran the country when I was a boy.
I am sure nobody takes people like that seriously in Jamaica today. And I didn’t think they were taken seriously in today’s America, either. But along came Herman Cain, the Stepin Fetchit of the 2012 presidential race (photo above, right).
He is the token black standard bearer for the Republican Party. He says all the right “white” things. He has a tax plan (9-9-9) that would wreak havoc among African Americans, who comprise much of the working poor.
He is the shining example of the extraordinary black man who did not need the civil rights movement or Affirmative Action or any government concessions.
Who says African Americans are discriminated against? Not Herman Cain. If he made it, anyone can – black or white or any other shade.
But what did he give up in the process?
He appears to harbor no resentment despite the fact that his mother worked as a maid and his father had to hold three jobs – as a barber, a chauffeur and a janitor – to put him through college.
And he brags that while other black Americans were marching for justice and equality, his father advised him not to rock the boat, to sit quietly at the back of the bus and shut up.
That advice must have served him well in the corporate world. In my experience, the employees who get promoted in that world are the ones who suck up to the boss and try to get along – even when they know the boss is an ass.
That’s the way the Republicans would like it to be everywhere. In their world, the boss may not always be right but he’s always the boss. And if he wants to take most of the country’s wealth and leave crumbs for the rest of us to fight over, why, he’s entitled.
So when a black man comes along who is prepared to play their game and deny his history, they are eager to back him – even when they know his tax plan is a joke and his presidency would be a charade.