A Different World

Issac Bailey | Watermelons on the White House lawn: Can someone define ‘race card’ and ‘race baiting?’

Attorney General Eric Holder said an incredibly reasonable thing, that opposition to President Obama is mostly not about race, but for some people in some instances, race is a factor in how they view the president and his policies.

Take a look at a recent segment on CNN about it.

And for that, Holder has been said to have played the race card or done some race-baiting. Which brings me to my question: Can someone define for me just what that is, the race card and race baiting?

If what Holder said falls under that category, can someone explain why? Is the only way to avoid that label to claim race has nothing to do with the opposition to the president, despite the signs at rallies depicting Obama as an African witch doctor with a bone through his nose, or the racist emails sent by judges, or the depictions of the White House as watermelon patch, or chain emails that describe his supporters as high on fried chicken, all events that have been documented since he won office in 2008? That’s not to mention the number of times the n-word has been used to describe him, or that he is the first president in history who had to call a press conference to release his long-form birth certificate to prove he is legitimately American.

I’ve gotten the feeling that if you acknowledge race at all, it makes you a race baiter in the eyes of many unless, of course, you say that black people are the real racists, or that everything is equal and racism died with the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, or if you defy any discussion about racial disparities in the criminal justice and school systems.

I know the label is thrown my way frequently if I deal with the issue at all, no matter how many other issue I delve into, no matter how many times I defend the Tea Party, and others, from blanket claims of racism. Race is a factor in how some people view me and judge my work, and that has only grown more intense since we elected the nation’s first black president. A significant minority of the response I have gotten since then has been racially hostile and hateful in a way it wasn’t before. That’s a fact.

It’s also a fact that most of the feedback I receive – for and against what I write – is not fueled by race, but rather a want to engage in real dialogue across whatever divide we must confront. I suspect those people will always outnumber those who are actually blinded by race, and that’s a good thing.

Now, back to the original question. Can someone define just what the race card and race baiting are?