February 3, 2007

The dissing of Condoleeza Rice

My wife and I had the very nice opportunity recently to attend a fund raising event featuring Tavis Smiley. It was notable for the not so great reason that its the first time that we've been out of the house for an adult evening in better than 2 years.

My wife was actually a guest on Tavis's radio program back in 2005. The topic was the election and she was the token conservative. His topic last night was about challenging America to live up to its promise as a nation, and what black america has to contribute to that conversation. Tavis is quite liberal in his outlook, so I don't find a lot of agreement with him on his policy prescriptions. I do like the fact that he wants to have an intellectual discourse on the issues of the day.

However, my wife and I were both dismayed to hear him talk about the need for more love in the public discourse and then hear him step right up to the edge of calling Condi a sellout not once but three times during his remarks.

Condi's place in black history will be marred into the near future by her service to George Bush. Black America struggles to give her her proper due for her incredible accomplishments while gagging on the political agenda and ideas which she has put her talents in service to. Some people (my mother in law for example) will call her a sellout and race traitor. Most will not be so harsh in condemnation simply because her accomplishments are so phenomenal that they overcome their antipathy towards her political orientation. She is admired in spite of them.

But I think its a sad commentary that Black America has largely been unable to simply give her the respect and accolades she is due, without feeling as though it must be balanced with a critique of her politics. A few years ago, she received an NAACP image award for her achievements. She received this award on the same night that it was given to Aaron McGruder, creator of the Boondocks comic strip, who targeted Condi with his "Condi needs a Man" strip".

I thought it was truly shameful that her award for her accomplishments which are global in their significance should be given on the same night that a mere cartoonist who disrespected her because he disagreed with her politics received the award. McGruder is talented and has accomplished wonderful things in his field. But the two of them are hardly equivalent figures. History may record his comic somewhere, but Condi's impact and achievements are clearly what history will record and analyze for decades to come.