The Dirty Dozens: Race, Civil Rights and the Democrats

It’s gettin hot in herr! The gloves are coming off, and people are now being forced to take sides. Senator Hillary Clinton has been trying to spin herself out of a whole she dug when she, at an attempt to dig at Senator Barack Obama, said that while he likes to compare himself to MLK, it took a president–Lyndon B. Johnson–to pass the Civil Rights Act.

The blacks are giving her hell over that comment, and on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” she said that the Obama campaign was “deliberately distorting” her comments.

Well I saw the interview when it aired, and no, no one is distorting her comments. She said something really politically foolish trying to one-up Obama, and she got caught out there. I thought at the time that that statement was going to come back to haunt her.

But it doesn’t end there. Saturday, Bob Johnson, founder of BET had the unmitigated gall to stand up in front of a crowd and act as the authority on Black people, and defend Clinton’s record with Black people. Johnson said

“To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved.”

He later said he was not referring to Obama’s admitted drug use. As black as the Clintons think they are, they are white enought to not realize how many Black people actually despise Bob Johnson. Many of us blame him for cutting BET news programming (and firing Tavis Smiley), and turning the channel into a video channel replete with images of violent black masculinites, hypersexualized black women, with a hefy dash of homophobia. In fact, THE SAME NIGHT he made these comments, Black folks were protesting outside the taping of a BET Awards show in DC.

Johnson is also the sleaze bag who moved the show Comic View from Los Angeles to Atlanta, allegedly in order to avoid paying unionized rates to comics appearing on the show. Not that I care about that modern day minstrel show, but it was still a low blow.

To make matters even worse, I just saw a debate on PBS’ The New Hour between SCLC veteran Rev. Joseph C. Lowry (Team Obama) and Civil Rights vet Rep. John Lewis (Team Clinton). John Lewis had the nerve to defend Clinton on the basis that “The Clintons would never do anything to harm African-Americans.” I am not sure if that’s a direct quote, but it’s definitely not far off. He said it twice.


I can definitely understand why black people may not necessarily be in 100% Barack’s camp, but I certainly cannot understand why some of us back Clinton over him–and completely uncritically.

But I said a few posts ago this election was going to help expose the tensions of the civil rights old guarde as they fall out of favor. Not because Black people are more conservative, but because they are now too entrenched in the machine to be effective as agitators. And their tacit support of the Clintons against a Black candidate generally more progressive than either Bill or Hillary, is quite telling. William Jelani Cobb has a great article in the Washington Post about this very issue.

6 thoughts on “The Dirty Dozens: Race, Civil Rights and the Democrats

  1. “The Clintons would never do anything to harm African-Americans.”

    I love that. Welfare reform, anyone? Bill Clinton was so fucked-up when it came to poor peoples’ issues. Immigration reform? For that matter, when Hillary was running for Senate for NY she committed to fight against local welfare reform initiatives, and then she went ahead and signed shit anyway. Which is the main reason i won’t vote for her.

  2. Pingback: Hillary Clinton » Blog Archive » The Dirty Dozens: Race, Civil Rights and the Democrats

  3. I don’t know what’s more alarming the Clinton’s for getting African American props or African American’s doing the propping up to begin with.

    What was striking to me about the Lowery/Lewis debate was how their backgrounds contrast as clear as the debate between Clinton and Obama has shaped into. Congressman Lewis, the brave civil rights activists turned into a Washington insider. And Lowery, the man outside the system.

  4. I don’t particularly like the political track record of either Clinton, but as a woman of color I must admit I’m torn between wanting to see a representative of my race or my gender in the White House (especially since having a black woman in office seems to be a far-fetched fantasy at the moment…unless its Oprah 🙂

    Platform -wise I support much more of Obama’s beliefs but I’ll be glad to see Hilary win a few state primaries if only to prove that one day a woman – hopefully more progressive than she – can become president.

  5. Greetings Kenyon,

    We would like to invite you to participate as a special guest in an upcoming live broadcast of the Empowered Black Perspectives Show to address various issues pertaining to our Black communities. Your name and profile was submitted to our administrative department in response to a survey that our loyal listeners answered to regarding guests that they would like to know more about. Empowered Black Perspectives broadcasts are structured as informative sessions where we invite those in our community who have diverse perspectives to participate in our roundtable discussions. Please email me directly at for more information and details about your proposed appearance. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Stay Empowered

    Kay, Administrative Assistant

  6. Pingback: Boondocks Takes on BET « Kenyon Farrow

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s