Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lindesy Graham's Racist Comment?

Ta-Nehisi Coates considers Lindsey Graham's comments on Medicaid, and decides that they are offensive to white people.

Coates writes:

The charitable interpretation rests on the invisibility of white suffering. It rests on the erasure of Clay County. It rests on the notion that the white poor are not merely the white poor, but white trash. It's a formula [that] makes an anchor of black America, straps it to a larger population of poor white Americans and then drops them in the Mississippi. It's a con that asks large swaths of white folks to suffer poverty in shame and silence.

No black person can end this alone, nor should we have to. The NAACP shouldn't say a word to Lindsey Graham. We can not purify people. We can't stop those who are set on blinding themselves. Ignorance is the burden of the ignorant.

I agree, but doesn't the NAACP do exactly the same thing?

Pick any issue -- the mortgage crisis, student loans, credit debt, Social Security reform. The primary function of the NAACP over the past decade has been to portray black Americans as economically disadvantaged. Typically, this means arguing that black citizens will be disproportionately harmed by various policy initiatives because of the disproportionately high poverty rates in the black community.

Maybe Graham should've qualified his statement -- or maybe we should all avoid conflating race and poverty -- but it seems like Coates is applying a double standard when it comes to the NAACP.

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