Yesterday, March 21st, on 610WIP, a Philadelphia radio station, Barack Obama suggested that his grandmother, a woman who he has said many times is known for spouting racial discriminating comments was a "typical white person."
In the radio interview Barack Obama responded to a question about a portion of an earlier speech where he stated his grandmother uttered racial stereotypes that were so hurtful they made him "cringe":
"...the point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, well there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that won't go away and can sometimes come out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society."In his comments, it can be seen that though he clarifies that his grandmother does not have any hatred for blacks, this "typical white person" has "been bred" to stereotype black people and say racially hurtful comments. The implication therefore is that Barack Obama sees that it is typical of white people to stereotype black people and make such racially motivated comments that offend others.
Now Mark Silva, from The Swamp, offers an explanation which seems to repeat the Obama campaigns response:
"The truth is, virtually every white person and every black person knows precisely what Obama meant. After generations of racial segregation either de jure (Southern) or de facto (Northern), the inbred, impulsive reactions of people who either mistrust, fear or resent members of another race are no secret in America. Even those of the youngest generation, in whom Obama sees hope for progress, can probably recall a parent or grandparent who has given voice to precisely what Obama meant: “Typical.’’Now this explanation, though true, does not in any way explain Obama's comments. It merely acknowledges that there are racist people in America, Silva does not explain how that racism is typical of a certain race. He does grasp at the Obama campaigns suggestion that perhaps Obama was talking about the difference in generational views, that old people are more prone to being racist, but no where in the interview does Barack Obama suggest age or the generational gap played of any importance, let alone mention them. Obama does not say typical old person, he says typical white person. So age clearly had nothing to do with it, and yes, Mark Silva, racism may exist, but why is racism typical of white people? Or at least explain why is it only typical of white people?
Barack Obama on Larry King attempted personally to diffuse the racial tensions produced by his comments, but he too does not explain why he said, "typical white person" he instead responds as if he had only said his grandmother was a "typical person" completely ignoring the most controversial portion of his words:
"Well, what I meant really was that some of the fears of street crime and some of the stereotypes that go along with that, you know, were responses that I think many people feel. She's not extraordinary in that regard. She's somebody who I love as much as anybody. I mean, she has literally helped to raise me.Obama's expanation does not answer why he said his grandmother was a typical white person in stereotyping and saying hurtful comments based on race. He steps back from his initial comments from the radio interview and claims that all people are now typical of making stereotypes and such comments; however this is a significant change from what he had initially said.
“But those are fears that are embedded in our culture and embedded in our society, and, you know, even within our own families, even within a family like mine that is diverse, you know, there are those gaps in understanding or the stereotypes that are fed by the news media and fed by what we see around us and, you know, in our popular culture.
“And so the point I made is that good people, people who are not in any way racist, are still subject to some of these images and stereotypes and that it's very hard to escape from them,’’
On 610WIP Barack Obama did not make some deep insight about how all people are typical in making racially insensitive stereotypes. He did not say its typical of old people to be racist. Barack Obama said it's typical of white people to make stereotypes based on race and to say racial discriminating comments. For Barack Obama to say this, he makes a stereotype of white people that is offensive and if the positions were reversed, and Barack Obama was white, and he spoke of a typical black person, Barack Obama's campaign would have effectively ended March 21st 2008.
Note: Philadelphia newspapers are picking up on this story, it is yet to be seen if this story will affect Barack Obama's numbers in the upcoming state's primary.
Video on the subject can be found here.