For me, it is not so much that this election is important as it is that this election has revealed an underbelly, an unconscious and unspoken current of the united states, of the empire, as to how it views race and gender and class. And this democratic primary reveals how we see blacks, women, immigrants, working class by putting them on the front stage and listening to how the discourse surrounds the election and invades the election.
For example, barack obama ‘brushed that dirt off his shoulder’ after the 21st debate. It was a shout out to hiphop culture. And it was hilarious to listen to the commentators on msnbc and cnn look confused at his gesture. ‘I think he is brushing off the criticism in the debate.’ Uhh…yeah…and referencing one of the more popular hiphop songs by jay-z in the past few years. And as Melissa Harris Lacewell points out:
He displayed all the familiar self-assurance and bravado of the hip-hop emcee. The people who got-it went nuts, while those who don’t know hip-hop just thought he was being funny and confident. This moment hit YouTube and went viral in a matter of hours. It was a signal of solidarity with his base of young, urban, black and brown voters. We loved it.
I loved it as well. I laughed my ass off when I saw the clip. I also loved the fact that he smirked, looked to the side, brushed that dirt off, and only said: ‘you know…you just gotta’ and then shrugged it off and smiled. It was priceless.
I am also fascinated by the way that he is now being labeled as an elitist. The first time I heard the commentary and criticism about him being elitist, arrogant the phrase that came to my mind was: uppity negro. That he wasn’t staying in his place. That he might think that he is ‘better’ than working class white folk in Pennsylvania.
I grew up in Virginia and lived with working Appalachian white folk. And for the most part they loved me. Except when I crossed some invisible line (that seemed to be constantly moving) and became arrogant. Often times that line appeared when I was in an argument with someone and brought out facts or analysis that they were not familiar with. When I quoted a writer or thinker that they were familiar with but could not counter. When I spoke persuasively and refused to back down. When they felt like they were losing face and needed to remind me of my ‘place’.
Honestly, I feel like most of the people who are offended by ‘bitter-gate’ are offended because they lost face. Because a bunch of ‘elite’ white politicians and media folk told them how they should interpret Barack’s statements. These white elites used all the code words that register as: uppity negro in order to understand what Barack really meant. And maybe some working class work folk felt that they lost face.
I am also interested in how Clinton is constantly proving how tough she is. I know that feeling. When you enter into an all boys network you have to be both tough and feminine and that is an incredibly difficult tightrope to walk. And she walks it well.