Hill Country

You go, girl!!
It takes one to know one: Hillary counts on her peeps

I never get tired of news footage that documents blatant racism. Also, when it’s coming from Al-Jazeera English, you know it’s got to be good. It’s going in some direction that the self-congratulatory, corporate U.S. media, still suckling the dry, cracked teat of American exceptionalism, is completely unwilling to go.

This clip, which I first saw on Street Knowledge Media, doesn’t necessarily dig up anything explosive. In many ways, it’s similar to the video from my post a couple of weeks ago, “So, Let Me Get This Straight: I’m Inferior To These People?”, documenting West Virginia voters’ thoughts on the then upcoming Democratic primary.

(This new one was shot in Eastern Kentucky though, not W. Virginia. Which—many Kentuckians and W. Virginians might be shocked to know—would draw a massive, “And? What’s the difference?” from millions of Americans.)

What the 3:06 clip does most, though, is plaintively make an argument about what white supremacy means in this election, at the ground level.

Kentucky coal miner’s memories of grandpa…Particularly as Clinton’s campaign prepares to hoist the white flag, the Al-Jazeera short is instructive. At one point in the piece, for example, the voiceover cites coal miner Johnny Curnutte, right, pointing out that “generations of people here have been raised looking down on Blacks as former slaves and, what they consider, second-class citizens.”

Curnutte then shares childhood memories of his grandfather’s response to seeing Black people on the tube. “He would say, ‘Turn the TV off ’cause I don’t wanna watch that ni@@er sh#t.'”

Watching the piece, it wasn’t the grandfather’s quote that struck me. It was the voiceover. That white people “have been raised looking down on Blacks as former slaves” and that they “consider [us] second-class citizens” is a statement so artless and lacking in nuance it doesn’t make the news. You’d almost never expect to see Brian Williams say it. Not, at least, without that characteristic, almost imperceptible pause and axial head nod that means, “Isn’t anyone who says this kind of thing just backward?”

“Ohh, say can you seeee…by the dawn’s early light…what so proudly we hailed….”At another point, the voiceover speaks to white fears of Black retribution under a Black president. Then, retired coal miner Oakley Delong says that “The white people have put the”—there’s just a minute hiccup, as he loads the correct word—”negroes in the back of the bus for years. And if we’re not careful, we’re gonna be in the back of the bus and they’re gonna be in the front.”

These are the “hard-working Americans, white Americans” of Hillary Clinton’s second- or third-to-last outrageous remark, the one in which she cited the same as supporting her.

This is the plain talk of “whites who have not completed college”—the ones Obama reportedly needs and can’t get, going into the general election. It’s good to hear those people speak, as opposed to hearing newscasters talking about them as abstractions.


1 comment so far ↓

#1 Sandra on 06.03.08 at 5:38 pm

Yes, who would have thought it would be good to hear straight-talking white supremacy talk — it’s great only because it eradicates the space for reductive interpretation and apology. It’s speaking its name and showing its face, and it aint pretty. Let’s hope all the anti-racist whites out there have their sensibilities offended enough to up the ante on working with their own mobs.

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