Saturday 27 November 2010

Race revisited

After reading that George W Bush considered the lowest point in his presidency to be when rapper Kanye West accused him of racism during Hurricane Katrina, I found myself revisiting the touchy subject (see previous blogs) of race/racism or more specifically the public discourse of.
It is pretty remarkable that after 8 years of what even his most ardent supporters would admit was a disastrous presidency, Dubya still manages to overlook major historical failures (starting two wars; turning a budget surplus inherited from Bill Clinton into a massive deficit; presiding over the genesis of the global financial and economic crisis, election shenanigans in Florida; Katrina; Abu Ghraib; the list goes on) and state in his memoirs, that the worst moment during his administration was being accused of racism by a black rapper.
In fact, Kanye West did not actually call George W Bush a racist. What he actually said was "America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well off as slow as possible … George Bush doesn't care about black people." Being accused of not caring about a particular segment of society is not the same as being accused of discrimination or racism.
I find it quite exasperating that Bush was more aggrieved about what he (wrongly) perceived to be an accusation of racism rather than the undeniable reality that an unnecessarily high number of black people had died in the world’s richest nation and sole superpower.
Kanye was spot on – the Bush administration simply did not care enough. I am convinced that if Katrina had devastated the Hamptons or Palm Springs, the response would have been first world class.
All this is just a microcosm of where we are in this whole debate about race. We find ourselves in times when real or perceived accusations of racism, bigotry or discrimination have now become more egregious than actual racist acts themselves.
I find that infuriating.