Shifting Out of “Race-Neutral.”

Tell it like it is.

Thanks to the wayward nation of Australia for doing what no U.S. media, in their white, self-congratulatory, post-election euphoria, have yet done, save C-SPAN and Bill Moyers Journal: In this clip from the Aussie news show, Lateline, Dr. Ron Walters, director of the University of Maryland’s African American Leadership Center, and a key strategist with both of Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns, talks at length about the role of race in the Obama campaign, and specifically on the president-elect’s “race-neutral” modus operandi.

Plus, they provided a transcript, where we can read earnest Lateline reporter Leigh Sales discuss the interview’s core concept:

LEIGH SALES: What do you mean exactly by a race neutral campaign?

RONALD WALTERS: The kind of campaign where one does not draw attention to race, one does not privilege issues coming from the black community. One does not, for example, invite to the stage in the images of the campaign prominent black officials. Throughout this campaign, one rarely ever saw a member, for example, of the congressional black caucus or any of the prominent civil rights leaders. So, what they tried to do was to tailor this campaign to an electorate that’s 70 per cent white and that extended even to some of the cultural aspects of his running for president of the United States. The Reverend Wright incident was an incident involving his former pastor. He had to part company with his pastor, part company with his church and line up actually with that electorate that he’s trying to represent.

LEIGH SALES: They may have tailored the campaign to a white electorate, but he still won the black vote as well. How was he able to do that?

RONALD WALTERS: Well the black vote votes not just on race. If you look at the 2004 election cycle, you had two blacks running for president, Reverend Al Sharpton; former senator, ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun. Neither one of them attracted many black votes. Blacks didn’t really support Barack Obama until he won in Iowa. And, what I say is that blacks in South Carolina received permission from whites in Iowa to support him and that’s precisely what happened.

A prophet…his own country…sigh….


1 comment so far ↓

#1 Reginald Hudlin on 11.27.08 at 4:23 pm

Okay, I didn’t watch the clip yet so these comments may be out of line but: No, Obama didn’t associate himself with civil civil rights era politicians. That would have damaged his brand, which was “change”…and that didn’t just mean change from the Republican administration. It also meant a new kind of black political leader that had a lot more appeal to all people…including black folks.

The black person most closely associated with Obama’s campaign was Oprah Winfrey, who also represents a new kind of a relationship with white America. They are both black people who don’t rely on white guilt, but at the same time demand respect and ultimately earn adoration.

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