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The Measure of a Man

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A new poll out today is not, I suppose really news to anyone who lives in, and pays attention to life in these United States.

And contrary to some of those who would like to see this as a Democratic issue, it is not. Clearly, were the Republicans running a black man for the Presidency, the results would be similiar.

The history of inequality among the different races, classes, sexes, sexual preferences, and religions in the United States of America is as old as the country itself, despite our best efforts in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We mean well, and often, individually, we do well. But, collectively, as a country, we have had to pass amendment after amendment to our original Constitution just to try and get things right. And still, we fall short, even with laws to protect us.

Some people. yes, choose to hide behind the mantle of victimization, and while I do not approve of that course of action–I would rather see people fight oppression than merely use their lesser "status" as a bully club–I do, sometimes understand the level of frustration that comes from continually being a second class citizen, or being judged by a stereotype that is outdated and shopworn, were it ever really based in anything but myth.

What makes me scared is the fear that people feel for others who are not like them and how that fear robs them of the ability to see a man for who he is, rather than who they think he must be. Has the media and our own mythologizing of black men and women so inured us to the reality of them as individuals?

It is a terrible thing that in a nation as rooted in democracy as ours is; a nation as peopled by the potential for kindness and goodness as ours is; a land as rich in resources plentiful enough for everyone as ours is, a man running for the Presidency cannot be judged by his measure as a man, but is being judged by some, by too many, only by his race.

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About Lisa Solod

  • Doug Hunter

    A fine article, thanks for posting.

    As to your fear mentioned, perhaps you should make the same mistake I do and assume that other people share the same motivations you do. If you feel this way it’s likely that a large number of you cohort does to and will do the right thing at the ballot box.

    Also, although I doubt it’s helpful, when I cast my vote in favor of McCain you can rest assured it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with politics. To be honest, I’m a bit jealous that Republicans may not get to be the ones to break down the race barrier at the government’s highest office. I’d love to be in your position getting to vote down a historic barrier and stick with your politics, unfortunately the candidate’s skin tone ranks far, far behind politics in my book. Here’s to hoping everyone else feels the same way.

  • Robert K Blechman

    Thanks for writing this.

    More that 50 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” and we’re still discussing this.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Let’s take a closer look at what this poll actually says:

    –40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

    I’m sure that 40% of all black Americans hold at least a partially negative view of blacks. I’m sure as many or more northerners hold a partly negative view of southerners and vice-versa. Everyone has a little suspicion of anyone who’s different. But the fact is that we’re not considering voting for the gang-banger on the other side of town or any generic black man, but a specific individual whose positive and negative qualities are pretty well known.

    –More than a third of all white Democrats and independents agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.

    This is part of the price that democrats pay for promoting the socialistic idea that people should be viewedas groups instead of individuals. This kind of attitude would be less likely to occur among Republicans – though I’m not saying it wouldn’t exist – because they are in the habit of assessing individuals rather than groups. And there’s no question that when a black man or woman shares their views they lionize him or her. There’s no one more popular as a speaker among Republicans than Michael Steele, or here in Texas the remarkable Michael Williams.

    –While about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks “intelligent” or “smart,” more than one third latched on the adjective “complaining” and 24 percent said blacks were “violent.”

    I’m surprised the percentages are that low. Given that violence is considerably higher among african americans as a group than it is in the general population, this isn’t racism, it’s realism.

    Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they “try harder.”

    Are you going to suggest that this is not true? Everyone would be better off if they tried harder. Stupid questions get useless answers.

    Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton’s white backers plan to vote for McCain.

    I don’t see much meaning at all in this. A 59% carryover seems perfectly reasonable. And there’s no sign that race figures in here. To be meaningful a comparison with black democrats would be necessary to put this in context.

    Maybe it’s time to go look up the actual poll rather than this fairly worthless summary article.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You can see more results of this poll at Yahoo.

    I’m not sure they clear much up, except that they do suggest that independents and republicans have a more negative view of blacks than democrats do. IMO the picture the poll paints of democrats makes them look awfully naive and unrealistic.

    Dave

  • Cannonshop

    I don’t know, I’m only 35, but I was raised to believe that Race should NEVER matter. Only actions.

    This is probably horribly naive. If the Poll isn’t skewed, it means that I’m somewhere well off the mainstream of thinking on both the left, and the right.

    kinda depressing, really.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Yes, Blechman, unfortunately, we ARE still talking about this, and that is why I wrote what I did.

    Canon, I am 52, and I was brought up to believe that race AND religion don’t matter, so put me out of that same “mainstream.”

    And Dave, what is your point? If repubs and indys have a more negative picture of blacks, why does that make dems naive?

    And if your proof that violence among blacks is more prevalent is that there are more blacks incarcerated, that may be partially the fault of our justice system. When you can go to jail for selling drugs but NOT for ruining the lives of millions of people (ie., enron, Bear Stearns, and the current financial crisis, what does that say>)

    I always think of Jean Valjean and his candlesticks when I think of the “equality” of punishment to crime….

    Poor people get way more time for way lesser crimes.

  • Papa Ray

    Yea, what Dave said.

    But also, the questions that polls ask sometimes never go far enough to determine what the person asked is thinking.

    Follow up questions would be helpful, but I guess that would muddy the waters too much for the pollsters.

    Questions like Why did you answer violent to that question?

    Could it be they really don’t want to know that you know that a particular race is associated with murder, rape, robbery, carjacking, thief?
    And that it’s victims are more likely to be those of their own race as well as others?

    Do they really want to know why one race is looked upon as a complaining, greedy welfare hog? Would they think that the differences that you noticed between New Orleans and S. Texas disasters had any bearing on your thinking?

    Would they ask you what makes you think one race is not so smart? Would they want to know that comes from you seeing what one race’s hero’s and life style is every day in your city or on MTV or other TV programs?

    No, all they want is numbers, percentages to throw out to give political groups something to rant and rave about.

    Polls are useless, unless they are honest and more complex than most would want or read.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas
    USA

  • Papa Ray

    “And if your proof that violence among blacks is more prevalent is that there are more blacks incarcerated, that may be partially the fault of our justice system. When you can go to jail for selling drugs but NOT for ruining the lives of millions of people (ie., enron, Bear Stearns, and the current financial crisis, what does that say?”

    Well, actually it says nothing about race or crime.

    White collar crimes have never been handled the same as other crimes, regardless of race.

    Our Justice system is geared toward punishment for run of the mill crimes. Or would you not like it to be that way. Oh…you want everybody to go to the same prison and be punished just as much for stealing millions as they would for selling twenty dollars of crack?

    Well, so would I if I were a criminal or a drug dealer. Do I want drug addicts to go to jail just for using? Yes, but a different kind of jail, one that will educate and rebilitate them. But a jail none the less.

    Everybody knows…that is a big general statement…that one race has not taken advantage of the American Dream. The reasons why are many, but so are they for other races and even moreso if you consider that they have not had government support for the last fifty years.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas
    USA

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    I guess you could change your article to The Measure of a Woman, and your references to race to references to sex, and it would still be a fine article.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    This is brilliant

  • Cannonshop

    What’s brilliant about it, Lisa? it just reads like self-pitying agitprop to me.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    SELF pitying? I hardly think so. He’s right. Obama has to be very careful. When black people get too angry, white people get scared….
    When black people get too successful, white peope call them uppity…
    Language is everything.

    When people use big words, other people say they are Talking Down to Them.

    Etc. Etc.

  • Cannonshop

    You know, Lisa, outside of discussions like this, editorials in urban newspapers written by liberals, and some very old fiction, I’ve never encountered the word “uppity” in actual usage. Not even in the South (while I was stationed there).

    It’s a word people in the real-world don’t use, Lisa, except in tarring their opponents as old-style bull-connor racists.

    AS for white people who feel threatened by black people, most of those white people you’re talking about aren’t even respected by their peers-they’re generally considered “White Trash”-and for a reason, it’s the bottom of the food chain, the failures unable to accept responsibility FOR their failure. Those people also generally believe in secrit Kabawls, Konspirasees, and Krist. i.e. they don’t vote often, and when they do, they don’t generally vote Republican (well, David Duke’s people did, but even Republicans don’t like that worthless son of a bitch,or his equally worthless followers.)

    In other words, Lisa, you’re doing something your side normally tars others for-equating the truly lunatic fringe with the mainstream.

    Most of the rest of us don’t have any use for the David Dukes and Al Sharptons of the world, save perhaps after epa processing as fertilizer in a landfill. Spend some time west of the Mississippi, you might find it enlightening.

    And by “most of us” I include those deluded souls who believe that Jesus Christ is their saviour and that the Apocalypse is just around the corner.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Cannon, on my opinion pieced Is Ignorance Bliss, I document a Georgia congressman using that word and defending his use of it. I don’t think he reprsents the lunatic fringe. Follow the link.

    I live in the south, have for more than about 40 years. You would be surprised at how many people outside the lunatic fringe use that word….

    sorry, kiddo. as far as I know, this is the very very real world.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Hey Cannon, Just out of curiosity, where DO you live? State? City? big, small? rural? are there black people, what other races? Do you bump up against black people? Count them as friends?

    I live where I live because I need to keep my daughter close to her father so she can see him regularly. I live in a very mixed community. I do bump up against people of many races, I DO have black friends…

    It’s all in what is real for a person.

  • Cannonshop

    Ah… well… okay. You easterners are crazy, I suppose it fits that you’d still have some fossils back east, the sort of folks my folks headed west to get the hell away from… (come to think of it, most of that type of scum I’ve encountered hail from cities east of Chicago.) I think it goes along with that whole concentrating into human hives, or something.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Actually, Cannon. I love the east coast…..

    we have everything here. All kinds, all types. a real cross section of America. You can find it all here.

  • Cannonshop

    #17 uh-huh, including towns willing to elect BIGOTS to office.

    Admittedly, I’m a bit smug about not being from either the East, or that mess known as California (a place that, only due to an unfortunate accident of Geography or migratory patterns, really OUGHT to be east of the Mississippi), because we have our own cross-section, and that cross-section is perhaps more diverse than you realize…

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Nope, my town will go for Obama, the cities always do. Virginia is funny that way. The cities go for the Dems, the counties for the Repubilcans. Such it is as it has been.

  • Cannonshop

    When you look at the district-by-district map, instead of the state-by-state, Lisa, that’s the typical pattern. Cities tend to go Democrat nationwide. I tend to think of it as a “Hive effect”-the bigger the Hive, the further it goes left.

  • cuervodeluna

    Well, I’m very close to being 64 and having McCartney’s question answered.

    As a Native American, I was brought up to KNOW that the US was a white-dominated country that had been stolen through genocide against my people and fueled by slavery.

    Double that 40% and you’ll be closer to the REAL truth.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Let’s take a closer look at what this poll actually says:

    -40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

    I’m sure that 40% of all black Americans hold at least a partially negative view of blacks. I’m sure as many or more northerners hold a partly negative view of southerners and vice-versa. Everyone has a little suspicion of anyone who’s different. But the fact is that we’re not considering voting for the gang-banger on the other side of town or any generic black man, but a specific individual whose positive and negative qualities are pretty well known.

    -More than a third of all white Democrats and independents agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.

    This is part of the price that democrats pay for promoting the socialistic idea that people should be viewedas groups instead of individuals. This kind of attitude would be less likely to occur among Republicans – though I’m not saying it wouldn’t exist – because they are in the habit of assessing individuals rather than groups. And there’s no question that when a black man or woman shares their views they lionize him or her. There’s no one more popular as a speaker among Republicans than Michael Steele, or here in Texas the remarkable Michael Williams.

    -While about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks “intelligent” or “smart,” more than one third latched on the adjective “complaining” and 24 percent said blacks were “violent.”

    I’m surprised the percentages are that low. Given that violence is considerably higher among african americans as a group than it is in the general population, this isn’t racism, it’s realism.

    Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they “try harder.”

    Are you going to suggest that this is not true? Everyone would be better off if they tried harder. Stupid questions get useless answers.

    Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton’s white backers plan to vote for McCain.

    I don’t see much meaning at all in this. A 59% carryover seems perfectly reasonable. And there’s no sign that race figures in here. To be meaningful a comparison with black democrats would be necessary to put this in context.

    Just thought this should be repeated as it’s exactly what I would say if I read the article sooner.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Dear Lisa,


    And if your proof that violence among blacks is more prevalent is that there are more blacks incarcerated, that may be partially the fault of our justice system. When you can go to jail for selling drugs but NOT for ruining the lives of millions of people (ie., enron, Bear Stearns, and the current financial crisis, what does that say>)

    I always think of Jean Valjean and his candlesticks when I think of the “equality” of punishment to crime….

    Poor people get way more time for way lesser crimes.

    The poll said 24% said blacks are violent. That isn’t a sign of racism. It’s realism. Blacks are far more likely to commit violent crime. Maybe rich white CEOs get away with stuff on their taxes, but that’s not violent crime. It is a fact blacks commit more violent crime. It is an indisputable FACT (not racism) that, currently, for whatever reasons, most likely environmental, BLACKS are more VIOLENT than whites.

    Of the 5 points listed by the link you gave, not one proves racism. Dave showed how every single one is either a dumb question, or people gave realistic, not racist, answers.

    THE ONLY point which might prove racism is the second:

    “More than a third of all white Democrats and independents agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.”

    This shows racism because it shows judgments about blacks as a whole (which are in all likeliness REALISTIC judgments) are affecting their judgment of one man who happens to be black. They are pre-judging him based on race. Racism.

    That point is the only one of the five that shows racism.

    If you want me to take the rest of the poll seriously, you need to go through the other 4 points and show how they show racism.

    Sincerely,

    PETI

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Great criticism Dave, I felt like I was reading my own thoughts.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    PETI, to be fair, it’s not Lisa’s analysis which is at fault here. The fault lies with the way that the pollsters themselves interpreted their data. Lisa is taking what they did an running with it, but the bias didn’t start with her.

    Today I heard another poll result which suggested that a lot of middle class working people were going to vote for McCain. The report made it sound like this was inexplicable and perhaps the result of racism against Obama. It apparently never entered their heads that working people don’t have to be racist against Obama if they believe that McCain’s ideas offer more to them and their class than Obama’s do.

    They did a breakdown of McCain’s tax cuts vs. Obama’s tax cuts on CNN today. McCain’s cuts are substantially larger for the top 3 quintiles. They’re the people who vote and the people who pay taxes. I imagine they find tax cuts aimed at them appealing. They also include all household incomes over about $45K a year. The bottom two quintiles can’t have their taxes cut significantly because they effectively pay no taxes anyway.

    Dave

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Dave Nalle, I actually thank you. Because you are right, in this case. Racism, you see, is NOT rational. Nor, apparently, is why people vote for a candidate.

    PETI, I disagree with you. Violent crime? Actually, blacks commit the majority of their violent crime on other blacks. And yes, it is violent. But you will simply NOT convince me that what the CEOs are doing to the country is not equivalent in many ways to a deep violence to this country. Stealing hundreds of millions, nay, billions of dollars from this country’s people. bankrupting its instutions, destroying its financial instutitions, betrraying its trust, causing despair, perhaps suicide, amongst its peoples is a form a terrible violence. No, they are not killing people, per se. But they are destroyig the soul of a country through their greed and pure selfishness. And none of them, I dare say, will spend a moment in jail.

    There are many black people in prison because of petty theft, selling and buying drugs and the like. The heads of huge corporations who steal countless millions should spend years in prison and they won’t.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    PETI, I disagree with you. Violent crime? Actually, blacks commit the majority of their violent crime on other blacks. And yes, it is violent. But you will simply NOT convince me that what the CEOs are doing to the country is not equivalent in many ways to a deep violence to this country. Stealing hundreds of millions, nay, billions of dollars from this country’s people. bankrupting its instutions, destroying its financial instutitions, betrraying its trust, causing despair, perhaps suicide, amongst its peoples is a form a terrible violence. No, they are not killing people, per se. But they are destroyig the soul of a country through their greed and pure selfishness. And none of them, I dare say, will spend a moment in jail.

    There are many black people in prison because of petty theft, selling and buying drugs and the like. The heads of huge corporations who steal countless millions should spend years in prison and they won’t.

    What does it matter who the violent crime is against? I hear statistics of black on black crime and it makes me associate violence with blacks just as much as black on white crime does.

    Also, there is more violent crime by blacks than violent crime by whites PLUS the number of white CEOs put together. By far. Even if every white CEO committed figurative ‘violent crime on his countrymen’ it would not make up for the larger number of violent crimes committed by blacks than whites.

    Blacks are more violent than whites (for whatever reasons [environmental]) even if you convicted every corporate CEO in the country. The polled people were correct to associate violence with blacks. I would answer the same way. Doesn’t make me racist.

  • David Black

    “Blacks are more violent than whites (for whatever reasons [environmental]) even if you convicted every corporate CEO in the country. The polled people were correct to associate violence with blacks. I would answer the same way. Doesn’t make me racist.”

    Of course it doesn’t. Acknowledging the truth about minority groups and their limitations is something that needs to be repeated and loudly.

    Of course, handwringing bleeding heart libs are too cowardly to do that.

    Why? Because the Democrat Party has no power without dependent underclasses to lord over and give money to in exchange for votes.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Acknowledging the truth about minority groups and their limitations is something that needs to be repeated and loudly.

    Oh?