Kobe Bryant will not be tried for rape. That was a close call,
and not just for Kobe. All of black America dodged a bullet when
what would have been the worst frenzy of media foolishness since
O.J. was averted. It isn’t hard to imagine the endless pontification
of pundits and supposed legal experts, complete with arguments
about date rape, sex and the wealthy athlete, taboos regarding
interracial sex, and theories suggesting that every famous black
man is doomed to be taken out by a fiendish conspiracy.
America’s sick obsession with celebrities and the pull of group
identity make for a perfect storm when the black and famous are
an issue. In recent years black Americans have been far too excited
because American Idol winners were black, or too upset when Omarosa
stabbed Kwame in the back. The level of interest in The Apprentice
was all the more ridiculous when the concern should have been
that Donald Trump, obnoxious and far less successful than he claims
to be, entertained America by giving out pink slips, and millions
tuned in to see working people tortured by a tyrannical boss.
The continued appeal of the certifiably disturbed Bill Cosby
results from the particularly noxious combination of triumphant
right wing ideology and black self-hatred, but is also the latest
example of the unwritten law that says blacks must support prominent
blacks, even when they make statements that are both useless and
Cosby’s latest rant,
performed at the Congressional Black Caucus annual conference,
was part and parcel of his new comedy routine. He legitimized
the worst, most offensive assumptions about black people, in this
case telling stories about immoral black women exposing their
children to abusive relationships with men who are “…lower forms
of life.” Speak for yourself Cosby. Even the black caucus has
abetted turning a villain into a figure of hero worship, all because
he is black, successful and famous.
Rooting for Tiger on the golf course or Serena on the tennis
court is as harmless and understandable as New Yorkers hoping
for the Yankees or Mets to win the World Series. It is human nature
to seek connections with persons sharing the same skin color,
language, belief system or home town. However, recent history
should cause us to rethink the urge to become enamored of any
and every colored person who allegedly makes good.
Hating Omarosa is trivial. Continuing to respect the hateful
Colin Powell is not. Powell’s first major career move was to attempt
covering up the atrocities committed by U.S. troops against Vietnamese
civilians at My
Lai. He is now just another poster child for Bush administration
thuggery. Among other crimes, Powell has lied at the United Nations
about the military threat posed by Iraq, destroyed Haitian democracy
and threatened other small, defenseless Caribbean nations when
they had the audacity to stand up to Uncle Sam in defense of Jean
Bertrand Aristide. Despite all the terror Powell has wrought upon
the world, most black Americans are still loath to utter a word
against him. It is both sad and funny to hear otherwise intelligent
people continue to make excuses for Powell.
“Maybe he is the spook who sat by the door.”
“He will probably resign.”
“He didn’t really want that job.”
Colin Powell is certainly not the victim that his fans make him
out to be, but acknowledging that obvious fact would mean acknowledging
something more painful, that he is as awful as his pirate brethren
in the Bush administration.
Avoiding this schizophrenia is really quite simple. As Martin
Luther King wisely recommended, we should judge others by the
content of their character and not the color of their skin. If
a white person who sweeps atrocities under the rug or makes a
bogus case for war is not acceptable then a black person who does
the same thing should not be acceptable either. It is insanity
for critics of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to be admirers
of Colin Powell when he is cut from the same cloth and shares
the same frightening ideology.
It is especially important to reject Powell and his ilk if Bush
should win a second term in office. There will be more Colin Powells,
Condi Rices and Clarence Thomases appointed to prominent positions.
We will be told that black opinion is not monolithic and that
we are being unfair if we don’t swoon at the sight of fascists
in black face.
The right wing elevation of black people who work against the
interests of other black people requires a disciplined response.
When a clone of Clarence Thomas is appointed to the bench there
should not be any silly discussion about how a black conservative
is preferable to a white one or arguments that Bill Clinton didn’t
have as many blacks in top positions in his administration.
Black Americans must not be in the thrall of any person who means
them harm, no exception can be allowed. In short, it is time to
grow up. There will be no advancement in our political thinking
until the Colin Powells of the world are rejected out of hand.
It will also help if Michael
Jackson doesn’t go on trial either.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column
appears weekly in
Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.
She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more
of Ms. Kimberley's writings at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com/