Some of us have an Inner Child. Others have an Inner Nigger. Is Holder the president’s conscience? Or his Inner Nigger?
A lot of people went off on the fine chap in the above photo for that quoted line. And why not? "Inner Nigger"? Come on, son. It was the fact that he dropped the dreaded N-word on a relatively mainstream Internet site that was beyond the pale for most folks. And I'll admit, I got caught up in the initial outrage over it, too.
My first inclination was to jump on the laptop, piggyback on whatever open Wi-Fi hotspot I could find and just go with the flow. In the immediate days after Rich Benjamin's assessment of President Obama's post-Zimmerman trial introspective, I would have verbally whipped this D.L. Hughley-lookin' mofo's behind up and down the block like your momma did that one time, with the Hot Wheels race track.*
But life outside of DDSS got in the way of that. So now I'm approaching this with a clearer head. Pangs of spoon-fed outrage subside with time and distance from the subject at hand.
So let's see what this Rich Benjamin feller's piece is all about:
Finally the president has spoken about George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Even as the country waited for his singular response – the nation’s leader and a law professor who once looked like Trayvon Martin – the president danced around the issues. And what a dramatic anti-climax, listening to the president refuse to say anything insightful or profound about the acquittal. In signature professorial style, the president gave us the “context” to the episode and to black people’s “pain.” But he didn’t offer a meaningful opinion on the episode’s hot molten core: racial profiling, vigilantism, and “Stand Your Ground” laws.
The one complaint I noticed from those in the black community about President Obama's speech is how he didn't get down deep into the nitty gritty of what's ailing the community. He wasn't as aggressive as some folks wanted him to be. Instead of jolting America awake over the unending saga of racism towards blacks (young males especially), his speech remained, as Benjamin puts it, "safe and airy."
I did my own review of the president's speech and what I said within still stands: the president is not just the president - he's "America's President™" and any attempt to voice his own deep-down personal outrage over this injustice would cause many Americans to tune him out. As Benjamin himself notes:
From a tactical standpoint, it’s wise for the president to avoid discussing race and Trayvon Martin. Many white Americans don’t want that discussion. Many whites avoid that discussion due to their sincere ethical desire to wash the stain of racial differentiation from our nation; they see themselves as Reverend King’s color- blind disciples. Still others avoid the topic because they suffer from racial fatigue. They feel harassed and hectored by so-called race hustlers. Enough with that: They want to focus on the technical and legal aspects of Zimmerman’s acquittal.**
So the president, as always, remained as presidential as he could be while attempting to address his own frustrations over Trayvon Martin's death, Zimmerman's trial and everything in between.
But Eric Holder doesn't have to be so presidential, which is Benjamin's point:
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered trenchant thoughts on the acquittal, demanding action. Before an audience of supporters, Holder recently called for a full investigation of Martin’s death after Zimmerman’s acquittal. Holder vowed that the Justice Department will act “in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We will not be afraid.”
“We must stand our ground,” he told supporters.
And this is where the whole "Inner Nigger" thing comes into play. In Benjamin's assessment, Holder's playing the role of Obama's so-called "blacker conscience," someone who's able to speak truth to power without worrying about being tarred and feathered with the "angry black man" moniker. But I have a bit of a problem with that.
What if Eric Holder's just being his own man? What if the above words aren't Holder playing point man for Obama's innermost thoughts, but rather Holder's own commitment towards insuring that justice is actually served on this matter? And how come the media constantly attempts to force the attorney general into that role?
Of course, Holder's been outspoken before. After all, this is the same guy who called America a "nation of cowards" for studiously avoiding any serious conversation on ethnic relations. After countless well-meaning white Americans patted themselves on the back for being so forward thinking in voting for a black president, this came as a grievous insult. To many whites, the whole thing just smacked of utter ungratefulness from a black community that not only didn't seem to appreciate their efforts, but went out of its way to chastise their many, often times misguided, attempts in accepting and empathizing with black Americans.
As a result, I sense many white Americans have decided to throw in the towel on black rapport and instead are retreating into a unique form of racial cynicism. Because their often insincere, paternalistic and patronizing attempts often went over like a solid tungsten balloon, many white Americans have decided to shed their "white guilt" and instead call a spade a spade, if you get the drift.
That's where things like "race realism" and the constant arguments about the N-word and its usage come from. It's also where guys like Rand Paul get their allure - instead of incessant black appeasement that seems to get white Americans nowhere, there's the refreshing libertarian perspective that isn't afraid to accept certain interpretations of crime stats and the belief in natural black criminality as gospel. They're no longer afraid to tell blacks to "stop whining" or wonder why blacks simply can't do as various immigrants have done and blend into the greater American fabric instead of, and I believe I'm quoting some of the darker corners of the Internet, "wallow in their own filth." Ultimately, they're free to tell themselves "it's okay to be white," as though it was some sort of curse imposed upon them as other minority groups take advantage of their generous nature.
But enough about that. In summation, Holder's reputation as "rogue Negro" to the president's "magic Negro," whether actually deserved or not, continues to ring true in many corners. I don't think that deserves him being referred to as the president's "Inner Nigger," "repressed Id," "blacker conscience" or anything of the sort. If the president wants to break character to have a "real talk" moment, that's entirely his prerogative.
As for Rich Benjamin, I'm not as upset with him as I was before. I understand where he's coming from. Like many folks, I wish he didn't have to resort to the N-word just to get his point across.
On the other hand, it is what it is. How he makes his point is his own prerogative. After all, it got people's attention, mine included.
*That shit hurts.
**Note the bolded. When Americans claim to want a colorblind perspective of the case, this is what they mean. However, sticking to the technical and legal while disregarding the racial paints a completely different picture of the entire case, one that disregards over four centuries of ingrained and institutionalized prejudices, bigotry and anger - things that often lead to the Emmit Tills of the world being exposed to a unique and deadly form of "justice."