George Graham

The Trickery of Tokenism

debate

 

Tokenism is as old as history. Conquering nations made a practice of appointing natives of the conquered nations as their agents.  In Jamaica back in the days of slavery, absentee landowners would appoint black or mixed race overseers to manage their lands while they were away in Britain. Sometimes, the overseer would be a son the landowner had produced with one of his slaves.

You would think that by now oppressed people would be wise to such tricks, but apparently not.

Just look at the Republican lineup for tonight’s debate. On stage, there will be two Hispanics, a black man and a white man married to a Hispanic. And, oh yes, a woman. The debate organizers moved Heaven and Earth to get her into the main debate.

That lineup certainly looks “diverse.”  And, if you add the 6 p.m. debate, it becomes even more “ethnic.” There’s a son of immigrants from India in that debate.

But when you listen to these “minority ” candidates tonight, they will sound just like the white-bread, male Republicans sitting next to them. They are not champions of ethnic minorities, they do not support women’s rights. They stand for the same oppressive policies as Republicans everywhere.

They deny that humans play a significant role in the horrors of climate change, for example. And they reject the notion that a woman has a right to choose her own reproductive destiny.

The token black candidate, a distinguished but misled neurosurgeon, would give full citizenship rights to a fertilized egg, making it a crime for a woman to take a next-day birth control pill. At the same time, he would revoke the birthright provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the provision that makes so-called “anchor babies” Americans.

Think about that for a minute. This supposedly erudite surgeon would give citizenship to an egg but not to a fully formed baby born in the USA.

I even read on the Internet that this black man “marginalized” the horror of slavery in one of his interviews. And I wouldn’t be surprised. He often chides the “Black Lives Matter” protesters and plays down police brutality against minorities.

This minority representative says President Obama deliberately depresses the national econony to keep people on welfare. He argues that welfare programs keep black Americans dependent on the government and  he says Obamacare is “the worst thing since slavery.”

He also opposes gun registration because – wait until you hear this – America’s national debt could reduce America to a third-world country in which martial law might be imposed, and citizens would need their guns to resist the government.

Surprising views especially coming from a black man. And this candidate is certainly dark skinned.

The Republicans are counting on the candidate’s complexion to make their outlandish policies palatable. Just as they are counting on the ethnicity of the Hispanic candidates and the gender of the lone woman on stage.

Will American voters in 2016 be so easily fooled? It remains to be seen.

 

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