Joseph C. Phillips

Harry Reid is not racist and Republican calls for his resignation are misguided. There I said it.

The senate majority leader has recently come under fire for remarks attributed to him in the new book “Game Change.” Authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say that in 2008 Reid described then candidate Obama as a " 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.'” The comments have been seen by some as being racially insensitive.

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Reid’s defenders argue that he was merely making the point that Americans were ready to elect a black president (or at least a light- skinned black president. Baby steps.) DNC chair Tim Kaine insisted that Reid’s remarks were offered in the context of saying something positive about the Obama candidacy and why his candidacy would be strong.

What remains unclear is why we weren’t treated to an equal amount of gushing about Obama’s vast executive experience and his readiness to lead. Instead, these titans of liberalism were most impressed that Obama was Black but not too black and well spoken enough not to offend the racial sensibilities of voters. It was also a plus that he was able to turn on a “negro dialect” when speaking to Black audiences. (Actually the same could have been said of Hillary Clinton. She is also light skinned with a habit of turning on a “Black dialect” when speaking before black audiences. Recall her chicken necking as she quoted lyrics from an old “negro” spiritual: “I ain’t no ways tired.” Really Hillary? But I digress.)

I would be remiss if I failed to point out that the racial sensibilities Reid and company were concerned with offending were those of liberals. Reid was not mentally tallying the votes of Republicans, but Democrats!

Certainly Senator Reid is behind the times. Who uses the word “negro” anymore? The accepted term is “people of color,” which, for what it’s worth, sounds way to close too colored people for my tastes. But do Reid’s comments really rise to occasion GOP outrage, which, let’s be honest is a bit contrived?


Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.