Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm too trendy for my shirt - Loren Feldman meets Mildred Loving behind a Comcast truck

Not that there's anything profound in it, but I was wondering some time ago whether Barack Obama was white.

Dave Winer (who, as I noted, has spoken about race before), entered this post based upon a conversation:

The man, who was black and wearing an Obama for President button, said he was from the Bronx, we started talking about the hometown and the good old days (we're about the same age) and after a while talk turned to politics and he volunteered something that I found jarring. You know Barack Obama isn't black like I am. Hmmm.

This reminded me of something that Saturday Night Live skewered in 1977, in a sketch featuring Julian Bond and Garrett Morris. If you are not familiar with either person, suffice it to say that Bond is a light-skinned, eloquent former legislator, and Morris is a dark-skinned actor whose characters were not known for their verbosity.

Garrett Morris: Good evening, and welcome to "Black Perspective". I'm your host, Garrett Morris. Tonight our guest is Mr. Julian Bond, and we'll be talking about the myths surrounding black I.Q. Specifically, the myth that whites are inherently more intelligent than blacks.

After some discussion about the inherent unfairness of IQ tests, Bond gets to the point:

Garrett Morris: How did the idea of white intellectual superiority originate?

Julian Bond: That's an interesting point. My theory is that it's based on the fact that light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks.

Garrett Morris: [ not sure he heard that right ] Say what?

Julian Bond: I said I think it might have grown out of the observation that light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks.

Garrett Morris: I don't get it.

Julian Bond: It's got nothing to do with having white blood. It's just that descendants of the lighter-skinned African tribes are more intelligent than the descendants of the darker-skinned tribes. Everybody knows that.

Garrett Morris: This is the first time I've heard of it.

Julian Bond: Seriously? It was proven a long time ago.

Of course, biting satire did not end in the 1970s. Dave Winer's post earned a puppetlike reaction:

But we haven't dealt with the more important question - if Bill Clinton was the first black President, then is Chelsea Clinton mixed race?

Meanwhile, on a more serious note, Mildred Loving died:

Mildred Loving, a black woman whose challenge to Virginia's ban on interracial marriage led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide, has died, her daughter said Monday....

Loving and her white husband, Richard, changed history in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. The ruling struck down laws banning racially mixed marriages in at least 17 states.

Not that I'm about to marry Naomi Campbell. I'd want a bodyguard first.

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