For the first time in American history, they're all together in the mixed: race, gender, and even age. Critics tread lightly lest you be accused of racism, sexism, or ageism! Barack Obama made history by becoming the first Black man to be nominated as a presidential candidate in a major party. Sarah Palin made history by becoming the first female to be nominated as a vice presidential candidate in a major party. And John McCain made history by becoming the oldest candidate to run for President of the United States. But it shouldn't be news that a history-making White woman is being pitted against a history-making Black man. "Barbie vs. Barack" is deja vu all over again, only this time it's with the style of Sarah Palin over the substance of Hillary Clinton.
Regular readers of this column will recall that in the March 13, 2008, issue of the Sentinel I wrote an article entitled, "Hillary and Hussein: This Century's Captivating Couple" wherein I outlined a list of examples in American and world history where the White woman inevitable came out on top in head-to-head competition with the Black man. Record-setting authors Harriet Beecher Stowe and contemporary Fredrick Douglas were the primary examples. Also, the White woman edged out the Black man in the space race. And though not listed in the article, the same pattern is seen in the world of politics. Here's the proof:
While in 1872 Pinckney Benton Pinchback was the first Black man to serve as governor in the US, it was Lawrence Douglas Wilder was the first Black man elected to serve in that capacity in 1990. Pinchback served as acting governor of Louisiana for six weeks in 1872-3 after the impeachment of Governor Henry C. Warmouth. Wilder served as governor of Virginia from 1990-1994. But, a White woman named Nellie Tayloe Ross beat Wilder out by over fifty years. She was elected as governor of Wyoming in 1924. Does the same formula of White-woman-over-Black-man work with the office of mayor? The first African American mayor of a US city was Robert C. Henry, who served as such in Springfield, Ohio, in 1966. (The very next year, Carl B. Stokes was the first Black man to serve as mayor of a major US city when he was elected to office in Cleveland, Ohio.) When did the first White woman serve as mayor? Some eighty years before Stokes. It was Susanna Madora Salter, who served as mayor of Argonia, Kansas, in 1887.
Interestingly, Hollywood has already explored what it would be like if either a Black man became President or a White woman was in charge in movies like The Man (1972) starring James Earl Jones where he played, for the first time in cinematic history, America's first Black president; and Air Force One (1997) starring Harrison Ford and Glenn Close, where she played a White female vice president who had to step in and take charge when the President, Ford's character, was indisposed. All this happened long before television gave us two Black male presidents and one White female president in the award-winning super spy series "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland.
The GOP choice of Palin, despite the shallowness of her credentials and the hollowness of her exposure, was a masterstroke. As the Republicans see it, McCain is tapping into the collective national psyche of the uninformed masses. The country cherishes the White woman. She even represents the country in the form of the Statue of Liberty, the ultimate memsahib. We've had the face of a beautiful White woman subliminally implanted in our minds from childhood. If you find this hard to believe, briefly consider these seven perennial bedtime stories all have in common: (1) Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, (2) Cinderella, (3) Goldilocks and the Three Bears, (4) Little Red Riding Hood, (5) Sleeping Beauty, (6) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and (7) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You guessed it: the White female. Many of our sisters even took a baldheaded, one-eyed Barbie to bed with them. To be sure, they're betting on Sarah the Siren, that temptingly beautiful White woman of Greek mythology with the mesmerizing voice who lured unsuspecting sailors to their death.
Many have indeed been mesmerized by Sweet Sarah. This is translated into a slight edge for McCain in recent polls. He inched ahead of Obama in national polls. However, Obama is blasting him in the most recent (as of this writing) Electoral College estimates. The Democratic candidate has 243 electoral votes over McCain's paltry 189. The Republicans are banking on her sex appeal but have withdrawn her from the public. They act as if Palin is terrified of both the people and the press. In the meantime, they appear to using a red herring by attacking Obama. In his book The Obama Nation (2008), New York Times bestselling author Jerome R. Corsi discusses, as the publishers put it, "Barack and wife Michelle's twenty-year-long religious affiliation with the black liberation theology of former Trinity United Church of Christ Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose sermons have always been steeped in a rage expressed by Frantz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X."
As if working in tandem with Corsi, David Freddoso, a political reporter for National Review Online, authored the new book The Case Against Barack Obama. In it he alleges that "much of the young Obama's courtship of radicalism had to do with his inner conflict about his racial identity." He then goes on to say that in seeking answers Obama turned to the likes of Richard Wright, W.E.B. DuBois, "and to other Black authors such as Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin. "Obama," he charges, "also looked into and flirted with the black nationalism of Malcolm X." He says this like studying African American history is a bad thing. Now, it's entirely possible that I could have overlooked them, but I didn't see any books criticizing John McCain for being the oldest man in the history of the United States to run for President, or for anything else for that matter. And, although I could be wrong, I seriously doubt if we'll see any on Sarah Palin between now and election time. Granted, there isn't much time to do an extensive background investigation on the vice presidential candidate, but this doesn't mean it's an impossibility. Critics say that's exactly why she is being shielded from the press and handled very carefully.
"Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation," said Sherry C. from Anchorage of Palin. "She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position."
Though Corsi in effect castigates Fanon as some sort of Black racist, Frantz wrote: "I seriously hope to persuade my brother, whether black or white." And what did Fanon see as a possible solution? "A restructuring of the world." Since this has proved to be beyond the ability of man-Black or White-to accomplish, it most certainly can and will be done through divine intervention. Believe it. Oh what a happy day. Amen.
Word for the Week (or is it "Weak"): memsahib: "A European married lady; also, one who behaves like a European woman." Oxford English Dictionary