My take: We’ve been Condoleezza-boozled

Is Condoleezza Rice really a black woman?

While she may appear on the outside to share the color and therefore sentiments of black people, actions speak louder than both words and skin.

Her grand ascent to the highest national office ever held by a black woman is tainted, and I believe will be judged by history as a story of a sad bait-and-switch.

The Republican agenda has not and likely will not take the interests of blacks in America to heart. The criminal justice system, public schools based on property tax, and economic and social barriers to health care, home ownership, and higher education will continue to disadvantage blacks under Republican leadership. It may be recalled that blacks voted for the Republican Party of Lincoln by the 90 percent margins Democrats enjoy today. After having seen the proverbial light in the New Deal era, the turnaround seen today took place. While flaws still exist in the sometimes herd mentality of American black voters, the fact remains that Republicans offer little more than lip service, and in a fresh tactic, face service, to blacks today.

Rice’s appointment is typical of the Bush administration’s cabinet-appointing sleight of hand. Supposedly “minority” political figures Clarence Thomas, newly elected Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, maniac Alan Keyes, and the barely tolerable Alberto Gonzales, our future attorney general, are the bright face the Republican party puts on perennially anti-minority decision-making. Picking up where John Ashcroft left off, Gonzales is highly unlikely to reverse the politics of racial profiling, invasion of privacy and other civil rights infringements near and dear to conservative Republicans. Gonzales’ fishy prior title of “White House counsel” doesn’t do much to allay the fears of those worried about his misplaced loyalties, let alone those outraged at his contempt for the “quaint” Geneva Convention.

As mentioned on a recent edition of CNN’s “Crossfire,” Gonzales’ remarkable success story was likely aided by policy with unmistakable and historic Democratic backing. Ideas like Pell grants, literacy education, Head Start and affirmative action undoubtedly contributed to Gonzales’ success. To a lesser extent, the good Dr. Rice may also have made it where she is as a direct result of these policies. But oh, how quick these minority defectors are to jump onto the Republican bandwagon, neatly pulling the ladder up after them.

I would hope that informed individuals are able to see through the GOP’s substanceless pandering to broad demographics. I won’t call it blackface, but remember Trent Lott? To reiterate an apparently failed campaign slogan, Condoleezza, Alberto, Mel and probably not far from now, Juanita and Tyrone — despite looking, sounding and talking like minorities, will be more of the Republican same. (Most sadly of all, the majestic Colin Powell is part of this bunch).

But the question remains, is anyone fooled? Does the minority public, growing in numbers and importance in 21st century America, really believe it is getting what is advertised?

Maybe not. Within the American black community, little fanfare accompanies what ought to be a watershed moment. The first black female in our nation’s troubled racial history has been chosen as the right-hand man of the president. But as of yet, not a whimper of widespread approval from the 36 million blacks in America, even the 12 percent who voted Republican this time.

To be honest, I was happier when Oprah lost those first 100 pounds.

And isn’t it a little fishy that Condi, clearly past her expiration date in terms of international knowledge, is still the leader of U.S. foreign policy? The position of secretary of state is not a learn-as-you-go job. In a just universe, she would be sacked for being an analog girl in a digital world. Her “expert” knowledge of foreign affairs is as rusty and outdated as the disintegrating Soviet warheads she learned Russian to contain. Times have changed, and her eastern European skill set seems 14 years behind them.

And no, I didn’t slip when I referred to dear Condi as a right-hand man. Her blank-eyed compliance with W’s first term misogynist agenda will surely turn into a rubber stamp in round II. We won’t see the woman part of this secretary of state. After all, she knows better than to bite the hand that feeds her.

At least they didn’t get Barack.

Sometimes I think we’ll have a humbug moment, in which the booming voice, crazy hair and composed facade will deteriorate and we will find, lurking beneath the cold, shiny Condi mask, a tiny, angry white man, grinning at the coup he’s managed to pull off from Stanford to the nation’s capital.

But until then, as a black woman with no interest in posing as anything but, I’ll hold my applause.



Dayo Olopade is a sophomore in Berkeley College.

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