George Graham

The Make-Believe World of Race Relations in America

I don’t think anyone will disagree if I say Americans are hypocrites. Actually, we’re all hypocrites, Jamaicans, Americans, Canadians, Brits… It’s human nature to pretend things are the way we want them to be instead of acknowledging the way things really are. But when it comes to that kind of make-believe, Americans take the cake.

reidThe Harry Reid kerfuffle is an example of the kind of denial I mean. The Senate majority leader (photo at right) made a completely¬† accurate statement in a private conversation with a reporter, who included it in a book, and now there are calls for his resignation. He has apologized to everyone you could think of, from President Obama to all African-Americans, living and dead. But, apparently, that’s not enough.

Reid was quoted by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their new book “Game Change” as saying that Obama’s light skin, and the fact that he doesn’t speak with a “Negro dialect”¬† (“unless he wants to”) were advantages in his campaign to become the first African American president of the United States.

Everyone, including Reid, agrees that the remark was indefensible and inexcusable, etc., etc. And it probably was. But it was true.

Do you think that a really black candidate whose natural language was ebonics would stand a chance of being elected president of the United States today? Of course not. And as for Reid’s use of the word Negro, hey, that’s still on the census form in the good ol’ USA. I wouldn’t be surprised if the term still includes anyone with 2 percent “Negro” blood.

It wasn’t that long ago that “colored” immigrants were banned from U.S. citizenship, and mixed race marriages were illegal in many American states.

Progress has been made over the years but this is still a color-prejudiced country, bro. No bones about it.

For example, there’s a large constituency that just can’t get over Obama’s election to the presidency. By my calculation they make up about half of the white voters in America – more than 35 percent of the overall electorate.

That’s one of the main reasons Obama is getting such a rough time. The way those people see it, everything he does is wrong. Don’t you think they would cut him a little more slack if he were white?

Americans need to face the real situation and try to talk it through. It doesn’t help make things better when so many Americans are in denial.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com