The "I have black friends" shield and its righteous takedown

The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism. - Melissa Harris-Perry
In her 2009 article, 'Unmasking 'racial micro aggressions' " Tori DeAngelis addresses subtle racism, the effects microaggressions have on the pysche and how those affected by these aggressions can turn them around for their benefit. I was prompted to revisit this article recently because of the blow-up caused by an article written by Melissa Harris-Perry in The Nation. Melissa Harris-Perry, is one of the most credible people when it comes to issues affecting African-Americans. Therefore, I took the words she wrote in her fact-based essay about the "double standard" that progressives allot to President Obama, quite seriously. Published in October 10th, 2011 edition of The Nation, the essay clearly laid out her case:
...The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors...
Some white liberals were so incensed by her post that they had to respond. David Sirota penned his response stating that Perry was wrong in her summation saying that Harris-Perry used "...such overly broad rhetoric to ignore legitimate, fact-based progressive dissent -- and doing so in a liberal magazine like the Nation without marshaling a single empirical fact to support the accusation -- does great harm to the cause of racial equality..." Joan Walsh could not hold herself back and she responded saying that the piece "touched a nerve"and even claimed that Harris-Perry was her "professional friend". The "I have black friends" claim is used in Joan Walsh's criticism of Harris-Perry's piece. However, Harris-Perry was having none of that, responding:
Which brings us to a second common strategy of argument about one’s racial innocence: the “I have black friends” claim. I was shocked and angered when Salon’s Joan Walsh used this strategy in her criticism of my piece. Although I disagree with her, I have no problem with Walsh’s decision to take on the claims in my piece. I consider it a sign of respect to publicly engage those with whom you disagree. I was taken aback that Walsh emphasized the extent of our friendship. Walsh and I have been professionally friendly. We’ve eaten a few meals. I invited her to speak at Princeton and I introduced her to my literary agent. We are not friends. Friendship is a deep and lasting relationship based on shared sacrifice and joys. We are not intimates in that way. Watching Walsh deploy our professional familiarity as a shield against claims of her own bias is very troubling. In fact it is one of the very real barriers to true interracial friendship and intimacy.
Melissa Harris-Perry's piece stirred up those white-liberal-Obama-basherers really good and their feelings are now hurt. But Harris-Perry is really speaking for many African-Americans who are just sick and tired of white progressives/liberals like Walsh and Sirota taking advantage of them and using them only when it is convenient. These feelings have been fomenting for a long time because when we look around in the media, in politics, on-line our voices are not sought after as much as white voices are. How many black anchors or well-known African-American bloggers are out there? You would think that the election of our first black President would help our case and causes but President Obama's election has only served up a whopping backlash against the African-American/black community and many have just had it. Quite frankly, there are many issues that have been festering in the black community for a long, long time. These issues, such as low unemployment, poor housing, low level education have been endemic in our communities under many Presidents before President Obama including the much-loved Bill Clinton. Where were the white liberals like Sirota and Walsh defending us then? Where were they? Now they want to bait and bash the only black President and take offense if African-Americans are offended and find them to be a day late and a dollar short? Let them stew in their own rancid mess as far as I am concerned. Harris-Perry did African-Americans a favor by calling them out and I was happy to see that her piece was supported by a letter to the Editor on Salon directly refuting Joan Walsh. Titled: Why Joan Walsh---doesn't get it, the take down of Joan and her friends came full circle and was oh, so sweet. It is about time!
The Prez Obama Bashers have decided to double down and now have gone all nuclear with a dismissive rant. Read here: Obama's Bridge too far... This writer is really playing with fire by being so condescending. Talk about micro aggressive behavior! Guess they do not need African-Americans in the party anymore...

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