Harold Ford and the White Woman Thang
I am no fan of Harold Ford. Never have been, never will be. If there is one thing I cannot stand it's a Black political conservative. I like Black conservatives just fine, but the ones that tend to be in the political spotlight are pretty much whites in Black face, when it comes to dissing African-American political interests. Harold Ford has proven that he is conservative businessman, through and through. Black or no, he does not have grassroots sentiments or grassroots concern - his career has been about getting paid. In the House, he's been as much evidence of the Congressional Black Caucus sell-out mode as anything positive for Black folks. Ignoring the old advice that "You can't out-Republican Republicans" Harold Ford has often been one of the best friends of the right-wing establishment despite the (D) next to his name.
You then add his case of homophobic foot-in-mouth yesterday on the question of New Jersey's Solomon-like babysplitting on the issue of marriage rights for gays and lesbians and it makes perfect sense that I genuinely don't dig Harold Ford.
That being said, I can say that I feel for the brother, that he is doing so well in Tennessee in the Senate race that the GOP had to pull out the old South playbook to try and knock him down:
By trying to evoke the subliminal white male fear of Black men fucking white girls.
Anyone who can make any sense out of the bimbo's appearance in this GOP ad other than as a racist code piece is a better woman than I:
You have to admit: She's just skanky.
The NAACP is, of course, histrionic over it. Even Bob Corker is running from it, RNSC's refusal to pull the ad and closet-case Ken Mehlman's feigned helplessness notwithstanding. Ford's extremely measured response? “You know your opponent is scared when his main opposition against you is, ‘My opponent likes girls.’ ”
A high-yellow man himself, it seems clear to me that he left out a word for media consumption and what he really meant to say -- but cannot in mainstream politics, even in Tennessee -- was:
"You know your opponent is scared when his main opposition against you is "My opponent likes white girls."
Obviously, Corker and the Republican National Senatorial Committee know Tennessee a lot better than folks gave them credit for (not that this wouldn't play right here in California too, given that the Klan and John Birchers haven't gone anywhere really but underground out here). After all, it was only a couple of years ago when the Tennessee GOP ran good-old-boy James Hart (aka Son of Hitler, to the right of David Duke) for a Congressional seat out there. Trying to link Harold Ford (a young black bachelor no matter how many almost-decolorized photos Newsweek runs of him) to white women anywhere in the South (even a ho-case like the one in the GOP ad) is like trying to chain Ford to political kryptonite.
Ford already is in a statistical dead heat for the Senate race (which to me, a veteran of the Tom Bradley election, means he's almost guaranteed to lose), so IMO this last-minute advertisement is designed for one thing, and one thing only: to reach out to those voters who say all the right things but in the privacy of the voting booth would hesitate pulling the lever for a Black man..........for fear of what that would mean in terms of things like competing for white girl attention. It's not the old BS saw of "rape" anymore - here in 2006 we now can speak more honestly about what I believe is the true genesis of this problem: white male inferiority complex, vis a vis competing for white female attention with a perceived studly hunk (and I use the term loosely, in Harold Ford's case) of Black manhood.
But that's only 1/2 of the story, IMO. From where I sit, there is *another* group this ad has bonus potential to offend to the detriment of Ford's chances:
Black female voters in Tennessee.
The extremely tense feelings that many Black women have about Black men who "abandon sisters" in their dating choices is well-known - in the Black community, anyhow. Go to any space in which single heterosexual Black women congregate and you will likely, over time, hear examples of it. Many of whom are single -- in part because they would never consider marrying a white man (history ain't that old YET in the South) -- and deeply resent Black men who date across racial lines at a time when there are only 90.1 Black men alive for every 100 Black women. Deduct the ones that are gay, incarcerated or unemployable, and you've cut the available percentage of marriagable heterosexual Black men to around 60%. Nearly 50% of all sisters under the age of 35 have never been married, as opposed to only 10% of white women.
Add the bonus fact that Black men themselves often get on Black women's case when *they* date interracially, on race loyalty grounds even as they are hitting it with white (and Latina and Asian) girls and you quickly realize that it's often a good idea to wear flame retardant asking some Black women what they think of Black men who date white women. A full-out hazmat suit might be called for (especially after a few drinks.)
Folks can say what they want about this being "racist" of Black women. They'd be right, but by focusing on that they'd also completely lack empathy for the reasons many Black women -- the head of the Black family, often -- feel as they do, often perceiving themselves as doomed to loneliness, overtly rejected as lovable, desireable women by the entire world, starting with "their own" men.
Hell, I ultimately married a white man more than once out of love despite real misgivings about it and I still put political heat on my bi-racial son about the need to seek out and marry a good *Black* woman like his mother, despite the race of his father, when it is time to settle down. (I didn't say my own racial shit isn't occasionally hypocritical for political reasons; I'm nothing if not honest.)
Look at the video again. What is the first image we are shown? That of a visibly non-white (light skinned Black, as I see it) woman pointing out that Harold Ford is "cute" and that's all that matters.
Now think of what that might mean subliminally, the image of the white woman who claims to have met Harold Ford at a Playboy party (to which it is doubtful any sisters were invited) asking him to call her.
Now, there's likely not a Black woman in Tennessee who would vote *for* Bob Corker solely because of an accusation that Harold Ford is hitting it -- or trying to -- with white girls. Sisters are lots of things, but politically stupid generally isn't one of them. But that's not how the game is played with many African-American voters. Crossing party lines just ain't all that.
Instead, they just stay home. They don't vote at all.
An outcome just as beneficial to the GOP when numbers are so close as the closet racists who will vote for Corker (aka against Ford) because of the ad.
It's clear that Harold Ford and the Democratic Party are all over this racist ad and so far, reasonably successful at lambasting it where white voters are concerned. But I wonder if anyone has even thought of a separate need to say something to Black women voters in Tennessee about Harold Ford, at the same time?