Not So Fast. Donkeys are Asses Too.

Democrats and Racism

Unsplash Photo Credit: Alfredo Mora

Bill Clinton and Donald Trump both love to stuff their faces with high carb, high cholesterol, sugar-laced food:

Bill’s favs were jalapeno cheeseburgers, french fries, chicken enchiladas, and cinnamon rolls. Trump prefers Big Macs (usually two in one meal), Filet-O-Fish, Chocolate Shakes, KFC, pizza, and, well, Diet Coke, as if the diet part matters at that point. I’ve heard that he drinks twelve of those a day.

Reagan stuffed his face with Jelly Belly beans and Mac-N-Cheese. The late George Bush made it clear broccoli would never end up on his plate.

Thomas Jefferson was a huge fan of waffles. Honest Abe devoured gingerbread.

FDR munched down on bread pudding and doughnuts. And LBJ couldn’t stay away from country-fried-steak.

But what would a Biden White House serve up? You see, Joe prefers a different kind of fare.

He eats feet.

According to Joe just this past August, Poor kids are just as bright as white kids.”

It wasn’t Joe’s first racial gaffe, and while he’s been known to trip over his words for decades, c’mon Joe, really? Tell us how you really feel about people of color.

He must’ve missed the part about the 35 million blacks not in poverty in this country, or the 15.7 million whites in poverty. Or his former boss.

Black doesn’t equal poor and that shit doesn’t just slip out of your mouth if it isn’t in your psyche somewhere. It’s not like he accidentally said well instead of good. Or that he typed your instead of you’re. My gut tells me he didn’t consciously mean exactly what was barfed up, but he still wasn’t administering the right kind of meds for the never-ending racism pandemic.

Now, had Joe not said in the 1970s that he’d be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,” I might believe he just has trouble with the English language and sometimes says the wrong thing. But when asked about his racist 1970s comment in 2019, a month after his “all blacks are poor” implication, to figure out how woke Joe might now deal with addressing the legacy of slavery, he gaffed again. He then proceeded to double down by giving a paternal lecture on how Black dads and moms could be better parents. Seemed like he still wanted to shirk responsibility. Or did he just say things inartfully again?

Last month, when Joe decided to let us know on a Black talk show that anyone who isn’t supporting him for president “ain’t black,” he put the exclamation point on a long career of offensive racial comments.

From criminals in hoodies and gangbanger comments to justifying cooperation with segregationist senators.

Even in 2007, he said Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” What? How does that type of nonsense, and frankly an outright lie, just slip out?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s laughable how Trump and his Fox and Friends cronies feign concern over Biden’s attitude towards Blacks:

Shit hole countries.

Least racist person you’ve ever encountered.

Good people on both sides.

Stephen Miller.

Bannon.

Mexican rapists.

Judges of Mexican heritage.

The birther movement.

Trump Management Company’s policy of not renting to African Americans.

The Central Park Five.

Randal Pinkett.

Go Back To Their Huts.

I want short Jewish guys in yarmulkes counting my money.

A complete shutdown of Muslim immigration.

Refusing to criticize David Duke.

We’ve got a man in the White House who literally gives renewed voice to white supremacists and a presidential stamp of approval for everyday racism. This isn’t about whether Trump’s a bigot. We’ll save that for Trump’s next offensive.

I’m sure we can once again explain away Joe’s recent “ain’t black” comment. That it was only meant to convey what most black folks believe anyway. That how on earth could someone of color support a man who’s made a mockery of racial progress?

It’s a fair point.

Truth be told, though, most of us anti-racists might rather have Joe at 15% capacity than 45 running on all of his unending offensive Big Mac fueled cylinders.

Still, Democrats should stop acting like they have the moral high ground.

When I graduated from law school in 1995, I was ready to tackle the world. I took a job at the prestigious law firm in St. Louis, Missouri. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was excited to finally be an adult. A real professional. A real paycheck. Adding to my excitement was the generosity of several lawyers who took me under their wing. They introduced me to politicians and included me in important meetings.

Here I was, a lower-middle-class kid from Ohio with no connections, and now life was about to change. You can imagine the shock to my idealistic system when a year into my job, sitting in an office on the thirty-third floor of the Mercantile building in downtown St. Louis with wealthy Democratic donors and a former Democratic U.S. Senator, I listened to these self-described liberals discuss how the only way to fix St. Louis was to, in their own words, “get all the Blacks out of downtown.”

Because of my white skin, I’ve been privileged to hear this type of refrain repeated in one form or another, in law firms and board rooms, in client meetings, and at informal happy hours and lunches. People must think because I look like them, it’s safe to share these types of thoughts without reprisal.

Once at a dinner in downtown Denver, a new friend, a Bernie Sanders supporter to boot, who didn’t know I was Jewish joked about Jews being cheap. It really came out of nowhere. In one of my less graceful responses, I snapped and barked at him, “Yeah, we’re really cheap. Next time you go to the Denver Zoo and sit at the Rosenberg Pavilion or watch a play at the Greenberg Theatre, or need cancer treatment at the Bernstein Cancer Wing, you can see just how fucking cheap we are.”

He wasn’t a card-carrying member of a white supremacy group and hadn’t consciously even thought through the issue before. Indeed, he proclaims he’s a liberal.

In 2009, I was invited by a new acquaintance, Rachel, to be a plus-one guest at a wedding an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Rachel was introduced to me by a mutual friend and we had talked on the phone for a month before meeting. She and her sixty-five-year-old mom picked me up at Hartsfield International Airport with smiles on their faces and welcoming Southern hugs. “So glad you’re here,” Rachel warmly told me as we headed to the airport exit.

On the way home, we stopped at a crowded gas station. As we waited for our turn to pull in, we saw a Black woman just standing next to her car, not filling up her tank. Like she had all the time in the world.

“Oh, here we go again,” Rachel’s mother annoyingly remarked. “Another lazy Black woman just sitting around with nothing better to do.”

I turned to her in shock. Rachel’s mom was upset that we were in line to get gas and it appeared the woman standing next to the car in front of us could care less about whether we had to wait longer. It turned out that the gas station actually ran out of fuel and nobody could fill their tanks.

When we pulled into Rachel’s subdivision shortly after, I changed the subject. “What a nice neighborhood.” Rachel smiled. “Thank you. The only thing we don’t like are the Jamaican neighbors across the street. They play reggae music too loud.”

I turned again, this time my anger increasing. I could deal with loud music complaints but where did dark ethnicity come into play? The thing is, Rachel and her mom are lifelong self-described Democrats. They voted for Bill Clinton and Obama. They support racial equality on paper. The same old story. But their actions and words in life don’t match their stated intentions.

Honestly, I could share dozens and dozens more of similar experiences over my twenty-six years since graduating law school.

Our standard in choosing elected officials shouldn’t dip to “is someone less racist or offensive than Trump.” If we’ve been reduced to that, there’s little hope of really addressing the systems of racial inequity that still plague our struggling nation.

When they aim low, we still need to aim high. But this time, way way higher.

Jeffrey Kass is a speaker and thought-leader on race and culture and the author of “Oreos and a Pack of Marlboro Lights,” a collection of lightly fictionalized tree stories, essays, and even a poem covering a wide variety of subjects including relationships, race, religion, and coming of age matters. He can be reached at jeffrey@jeffreykass.com

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Jeffrey Kass

Jeffrey Kass

Named by Medium as Top Writer on Racism, Diversity, Education and Parenting | Speaker on Race and Society | Award-Winning Author| Latest Book: The Rona Diaries