Home / Broadcaster retracts ‘Aunt Jemima’

Broadcaster retracts ‘Aunt Jemima’

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John Sylvester, the white talk show host targeted by a ‘black’ front group run by white conservatives, Project 21, has more to say. He has issued a fuller statement of his views regarding national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Sylvester was criticized by conservatives, most of them white, for referring to Rice as ‘Aunt Jemima.’ In his extended remarks, he says he regrets using that term if it offends African-Americans. Sylvester does not retract his criticism of Rice’s role in the Bush administration.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“Every once in a while, the words I use on my radio program seem to create a controversy that take on a life of their own,” Sylvester said in a statement issued Monday.

“I’m concerned that I have offended many African-Americans by using a crass term to describe an incompetent, dishonest, political appointee of the Bush administration. I apologize,” he said.

. . .In his statement, Sylvester did not, however, apologize for “pointing out that while Condoleezza Rice has clearly enjoyed the American dream, she has allowed herself to be used as a black trophy by an administration who is working so hard to deny that dream to other African-American women.”

The statement pointed to what he called Bush’s opposition to affirmative action and appointments of “judges who refuse to enforce the civil rights laws.”

I said in the previous entry that Sylvester’s use of the term was crude, and that better ways of criticizing Bush’s African-American appointees existed.

Sylvester criticized two public officials who happen to be African-American for their participation in what he considers wrongheaded foreign policy. One could argue that focusing on how he believes they failed the American people in their roles in the administration would be a better idea than noting their status as tokens.

Now that Sylvester has apologized, the piling on will likely increase. One liberal weblog, Another Liberal Blog, has already referred to him as an ‘asshole.”

If this Sylvester guy is trying to derail Rice’s confirmation, a goal I wholeheartedly support, he’s not helping . Her incompetence as NSA has nothing to do with race; it has to do with incompetence. Lack of competence knows no racial boundaries. Likewise, Colin Powell’s subservience has nothing to do with race; it’s a character flaw. Plenty of 67-year-old career military and government officers swallow their consciences and convictions out of misplaced loyalty to their bosses. If Powell were white, we’d have no term like ‘Uncle Tom’ to refer to his lack of character. There are plenty of good reasons to hold both Powell and Rice in contempt without bringing race into the picture.

That blogger is wrong. Though race is not the primary issue in the behavior of either Rice or Secretary of State Colin Powell, it is a factor in the role they play for the administration. Their being African-American is used as a form of Teflon to keep the corrupt policies they support from being criticized. Sylvester’ error was not in mentioning the role race plays for the pair. It was in using crude terminology. The error is a minor one, in my opinion. Sylvester’s two points:

~ The Bush administration is wrongheaded in its foreign policy, and

~ The Bush administration is hostile to the interests of people of color despite having two black appointees

are accurate.

ALB has unwittingly given credence to Right Wing whites like Scott Hogenson of CNS, who tried to claim that Sylvester’s faux pas is equivalent to joking about murdering blacks. It is important that thoughtful people keep the matter in perspective. John Sylvester appears to be a person who has long supported the aspirations of people of color. His critics, both white conservatives and their black cat’s paws, are largely people hostile to black Americans — unless the black Americans are Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell.

What’s the art?

An image of Aunt Jemima, the icon associated with pancake mix.

Read a history of Aunt Jemima at Ad Age.

Note 1: This entry also appeared at Silver Rights.

Note 2: Enjoy a mixed grille of fine blogging at Mac-a-ro-nies.

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About The Diva

  • Voxxy

    The issue is racism and nothing but racism. I take it from your posting that you have no difficulty with referring to Al Sharpton, Charlie Rangel and Jesse Jackson, then, as Amos, Andy and Kingfish?

  • None. . .if you can support your remarks by showing them behaving in a way similar to those characters. Which you can’t, since all three are assertive men. You might want to apply those terms to the black ‘con-servatives’ white folks use instead.

  • Eric Olsen

    somewhere in there is an admission by you and by Sylvester that his comments were racist – I’ll leave it at that

  • I do not consider the term ‘Aunt Jemima’ racist if it is used appropriately. That would mean using it to describe someone who is subservient or who is the comforting black image projected by a powerful white organization. However, as I said in both my entries, there are usually better ways to criticize people than relying on crude characterizations.

  • Eric Olsen