In yet another stunning proclamation from the post racial world, Chris Matthews said he “forgot Obama is Black” in his commentary on the state of the union. To bad no Black person is allowed to forget for a single day because of the racism that is constantly thrown at us. This beautiful new post racial world that Obama supposedly ushered in, allows Whiteness to pretend that racial disparity does not exist, thereby freeing Whiteness of any obligation to acknowledge the ways in which it both actively and passively supports the White supremacist state.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight, and it’s interesting: He is post-racial by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about.
I was watching, I said, Wait a minute, he’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is President of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard — a very subtle fact. It’s so hard to even talk about; maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am.
He was right, he shouldn’t talk about it because clearly he knows nothing about what it is to be of colour in a world where this serves as a visible stigma. The subject matter allowed Matthews to forget that Obama is Black and if this is the case, it is only because he believes that Black people don’t have serious concerns about the world. Would he have seen blackness if Obama had been speaking about the latest R&B hit? What about if Obama was talking about shooting hoops? When Black men are not understood to be criminals, they are perceived as successful only in terms of music or sports. These stereotypes allow Obama to be understood by Whiteness to be an anomaly, despite the fact that there are Black lawyers, doctors, dentists, businessmen etc,.
After the furor that ensued from his comments, Matthews qualified his statement by adding praise for the president for “taking us beyond black and white in our politics, wonderfully so, in just a year. … And I’m loving it.”
I wonder why he thought that this statement was any better than the previous one? Why would moving beyond a problem that continues to exist and has so many negative consequences for millions be laudable, unless Matthews desires to hold on to his White privilege with a death grip? You can only be comfortable sweeping the issue of race under the rug, if it does not negatively impact your life; that in and of itself proves the falseness of the post racial world. Whiteness does not want to confront the horror that it daily creates to sustain undeserved privilege.
Obama makes many comfortable because he has continually refused to speak truth to power regarding racism. Some would say that this is because he is the president and should represent all of the people, however; all of the previous White men to hold the office made no qualms about assuring the continued success of Whiteness. We have always been willing to promote members of a marginalized group, as long as they continue to act in ways that assure that the power structure remains the same. Obama makes Matthews comfortable because his actions have repeatedly made clear that he is not about revolution. Obama’s body may be encoded with historical inequity but that is as close as he is ever going to come to holding Whiteness accountable.