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Saturday, October 22, 2016

On Race And Herman Cain — A Darker Shade Of Wail

This is for those who keep asking what I think of Herman Cain. In particular, it’s for those who want to know what the tea party’s embrace of this black businessman turned presidential candidate says about my claim that the tea party is racist.

I might eat the plate of crow those folks proffer if I’d ever actually made that claim. What I have said, fairly consistently, is something more nuanced: Racial animus is an element of tea party ideology, but not its entirety. As I once noted in this space, the tea party probably would not exist if Condoleezza Rice were president.

Modern social conservatives, in my experience, do not hate black people en masse. To the contrary, there are two kinds of blacks they love. The first is those, like Rice, who are mainly mute on the subject of race, seldom so impolite as to say or do anything that might remind people they are black. The second is those who will engage on race, but only to lecture other blacks for their failures as conservatives conceive them. And that, friends and neighbors, is Herman Cain all over.

“I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” he told CNN recently. Had he contended too many African-Americans use racism as an excuse for failure to succeed and even failure to try, Cain would have gotten no grief from me; I’ve made that argument often.

But what he said was that racism is no longer a factor. He surely warmed the hearts of his conservative fellow travelers who swear blacks have the same opportunity to succeed as whites if they’d only get off their lazy so-and-sos and do it.

It is a claim spectacularly at odds with reality, given that African-American unemployment runs twice that of whites, given that the Agriculture Department admits to systematically discriminating against black farmers, given documentation of a “justice” system engaged in the mass incarceration of young black men.

But what made the claim truly bizarre is that two days later, Cain branded himself a victim of racism. Specifically, he said some black people are “racist” because they disagree with his politics. So blacks aren’t held back by racism, but Cain is?

Lord, give me strength.

He thus neatly encapsulates what has become an article of faith for many white conservatives; namely, that it is they, not black and brown people, who are the true victims of bigotry. Mind you, they have not a shred of a scrap of a scintilla of evidence to support this cockamamie idea, but they believe it anyway. And now they find support for their idiocy in this Negro from Atlanta.

One of the least-discussed impacts of the black experience in America is its emotional toll. African-Americans were psychologically maimed by this country, the expression of which can still be seen in the visceral self-loathing that afflicts too many.

Meaning the black child who equates doing well in school with “acting white.” Meaning the famous black man who bleaches his skin. Meaning the famous black woman who rationalizes her use of a certain soul-killing racial epithet. Meaning Herman Cain.

In his diminution of African-American struggle, he comes across as a man profoundly at odds with the skin he’s in. He seems embarrassed he’s black.

For what it’s worth, I suspect black folks aren’t real happy about it, either.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at [email protected])

(c) 2011 The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

  • reggiebeal

    Pitts is “right on” about Herman Cain. Cain is unwlling to face the fact that African Americans are regarded negatively by many whites in this country. Racial prejudice has not been eliminated in the “the good old USA.” To think otherwise is not facing reality. Even comments about him by some of his fellow Republican Presidential candidates reflect racial prejudice.

  • barbarahugh

    Leonard Pitts I admire what you wrote , I am from Cuba from white Spanish parents but in the USA I see as much racism as in many other countries , but here it is worst , I see some people still haven’t come to grip that our President is Mulato
    any thing he saids or do denied I have never seen something like this how can any body fix in 3 years what took 8 yrs to mess up ? As for Mr Cain , everytime I can I discourage young people from voting for him . I will definately vote Obama again and all my house hold too. We must give him that vote .He will be a stronger president the 2nd time around due to the fact he will not be running again , there will be alot of vetos next time around .

  • white knight

    “Cain” has already betrayed Able in the African American Community. His smile is as deceiving as his rhetoric but more dsangerous are his simplistic proposals.

  • Del TN

    Leonard Pitts really sounds like he is an authority on the subject of racism. Sorry Leonard but I have a little experience in that area myself. I will be the first to recognize that there are some people in this country who are still pred. against the opposite race. I would point out that this covers both black and white people however, my experience is this does not represent the whole human race.

    For the most part the majority of both white and black people are not pred. against the other race.

    I happen to believe that Herman Cain represents the conservative electorate in this country as well as any other of the candidates. He is as inteligent as any other person I have heard speak. He is an eloquent speaker the same as Obama, however he is sincere and knows what he is talking about. I am tired of listening to the blame game that Mr. Obama expouses. He is quick to lay the blame on others rather that accepting some of the blame for his FAILED policies. He doesn’t listen to any one who might have a good idea. He really believes that he is the “anointed one”, the savior of america.

    I will vote for Herman Cain if he is the repub. candidate. Oh, and he is 100% black.

  • peteserb

    Pitts the writer is himself a bigot. He makes no mention that 97% of the black people voted for Obama and his Marxist ideology. He also neglects to mention that in general the black population is more race biased than whites. The liberals love Obama because of his color, yet disparage Cain because of his color. (the Washinton Post, The Huffington Post and The LA Times are representitive of this.) The only time Obama sings “why can’t we all get along” is when he’s trying to extort something from the U.S. citizen’s or congress. Shame on the writer Pitts and the National Memo’s liberal agenda.

  • BruceThompson

    DEL TN what is your “experience in this area?” It certainly is reflected in your poor writing and memorized “Republican” boot camp chatter. And for PETESERB who was your first grade teacher and are you in therapy? HERMAN CAIN IS A LAWN JOCKEY. One thing I like and dislike about our country is that you don’t have to be intellectual to make a million dollars.Our President happens to be an intellectual, millionaire, and admired around the world; not for his title, but his character, accomplishments, and integrity. He has been a grassroots organizer, senator, awarded the Harvard Review, earned a Pulitzer Prize, and wrote his OWN BOOKS – NOT PALIN’S, O’REILLY’S, and “THE CLOWN’S” THAT USED TO BE ON FOX GHOST WRITER.

  • CharlesGrays

    It hard for me to understand how Herman Cain can not recognize discriminatory practice in any form as being a black man. As a black man I have no doubt that he has face discrimination in some form. He may not want to say publicly because he is running president but as God is my witness Mr. Cain as being a black man has surly been discriminated in some form. Maybe we need to check his birth place making sure he is a U.S. Citizens. Every black man on God green earth can tell you a story of then being discriminated against but most white people are voluntary blind to any act of racisim.

  • Phil

    Exactly what are those failed policies?? Are you aware that the President inherited a country in an economic crisis? If you are, are you saying that he doesn’t have the right to put blame where it belongs? And last, you believe candidate Cain is the President’s intellectual equal?? Are you serious?????

  • melliemel

    Thank God that someone has the intelligence to put it in words who herman cain really is. I work in the Atlanta airport, and see cain offten, he walks thru with a hugh black cowboy haton, vowing for attention. His humility is null and void. But what gets me the most, is his insults us to gain votes. And speaking of brain washed, This is the same conquer and divide, or the willy lynce syndrome game at its best. these people voting for him don’t really like him, if they did his numbers would be much higher by now. but if they can break up the togetherness, they see in us, they have succeeded. and lastly, I heard grover norquist on the Morning Joe show, say as long as the next republicans fingers work to sign the papers when they say, the next canidate does not need to worry about anything they will handle the rest. This is why the President is hated, he is not in the click.
    herman might want to rethink this, they will eat him alive if he does not do what he is told.

  • carmencasas

    If any one votes for Mr. Cain thinking he will make America better for everyone, think again, Mr. Cain is a self centered egomaniac who thinks that he has gotten where he is without help from anyone, he pictures himself as the President of the United States without considering the voters thoughts on it. Someone who thinks he is grandious will sell himself to the highest bidder and we know who is in line with the check book open WS. And what about the people in states that do not have income tax and already depend on sales tax, are we not adding a new tax called Federal Sales Tax with no exemptions

  • rumpunch

    Around 1980 there was an EEOC decision that a black supervisor could indeed be held responsible for racial discrimination against a black subordinate. It’s not a far stretch to understand how this can happen. Self loathing can affect decision making in many situations. The trick is being self aware enough to know what we’re tempted to do and not do it. Whatever the reason, and no matter his ethnicity, somewhere along the line, Mr. Cain lost his ability to identify with himself. This guy, like some of the other candidates, has personal problems the country just shouldn’t be expected to shoulder.

  • deborah Sevenwolves

    There is no serious consideration for Cain to get the Republican nomination, he is
    unelectable. He is just one more idiot,except for one,among the other idiotic contestants.