To the editor:
My column (“My take: We’ve been Condoleezza-boozled,” 12/1) incited a great deal of debate in the last week. I am thankful to see that public discourse is alive and well at Yale. Understanding that there are conflicting viewpoints on the matter, I stand by what I wrote.
The provocative first sentence was an encouragement to look beyond what we are told. The Benetton ad of today’s GOP is just one part of the all-out assault I believe Republicans are making on informed public discourse in America. They believe that to hear that Iraq and Al Qaeda are linked is to make it so. Similarly, they hope that to see Rice’s face is to believe that all is right with blacks and the GOP in America, but I’m not so convinced this is true. This is the foundation of my disagreement with the appointment of Dr. Rice as well as other minority figures. The GOP disadvantages blacks, Latinos, women, gays and other minorities, and with the “fresh” minority faces, is attempting a grand cover-up to boot.
Secondly, the Congressional Black Caucus exists for a reason: the sad but indisputable fact that without them, the needs of the black community and other minority groups may not be addressed. And they are all Democrats, fighting for issues that affect blacks. Please don’t tell me the black community does not exist. Don’t tell me there are not issues that pertain specifically to black people in America. The gun lobby, farm lobby and Jewish lobby are allowed their time in the sun, but the idea of similar collective interest for a race bigger than the total number of farmers remaining in the whole country is “racism”? Absurd.
I believe the racial history of this place means that to be in the spotlight and to be black entails a specific responsibility. It does not mean you must be militant or a counter-cultural, white-hating activist. You can even be a Republican. But it does mean that if it is anywhere within your power (and hopefully it is in your conscience), you ought to consider the needs of minorities as best you can. I briefly mentioned Barack Obama, who, let’s not forget, is half-white, and has embraced his blackness not for political gain (although DNC leaders are salivating at the idea of a 2008/12 run), but, as he explains, because that’s how people see him. On the street. In his car. At the podium of the national convention. He accepts the externally imposed reality of blackness in America and will not abandon it in the face of his rising star. Put Condoleezza or Clarence Thomas on a dark street at midnight and see how many people cross to the other side to avoid their secretary of state and Supreme Court justice.
Rice is smart. She is likely a good woman. My issue with her is part of a personal ideology I hold. I don’t wish to take away from the accomplishments of these individuals, but I haven’t come so far that I can’t see false advertising.
Dayo Olopade ’07
Dec. 6, 2004