Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the Washington Post.
Mr. Robinson, in your Thursday, October 27th, 2005 column you wrote of how you have long wondered what the deal was with Condoleezza Rice and the issue of race. You pose the questions, "How does she work so loyally for President George W. Bush, whose approval rating among blacks was measured in a recent poll at a negligent 2 percent? How did she come to a world view so radically different from that of most black Americans? You then question Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mental state of mind and intelligence by asking "is she blind'? "Is she in denial"? "Is she confused or what"?
Eugene Robinson, are you suggesting that black Americans are unable or not allowed to think and choose for themselves? Are you suggesting that black Americans are unable to develop their own point of views on the issue of race due to the color of their skin? Are you suggesting that the 2 percent of black Americans must be blind, in denial or confused if they do not agree with you and the rest of black America?
I also have to ask if you expect Condoleezza Rice to be unloyal in her work as Secretary of State just because she is an African American appointed by President George W. Bush? How ridiculous and unprofitable would that be to the American people and their nation, to have the Secretary of State to be disloyal in her work under the President?
You then suggest that during your whole three day tour of duty following Condoleezza Rice and her entourage as she toured her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama that you have discovered a partial answer to why she thinks and believes the way she does. This is no doubt an amazing skill you possess. You first determined that she grew up in a protective bubble as the tumult of the civil rights movement swirled around her. Your asinine partial answer is that Condoleezza Rice is still closeted in her beloved Titusville, the neighborhood of black strivers where she was raised in Birmingham, able to see the very different reality that all (except Condoleezza, mind you) other African Americans experienced, but she herself was unable to reach outside of her protective bubble, not able to touch that other reality (racism), and thus not understand it. Incredible, you were able to come up with a theory of how it must have been for a young black girl to be raised in Birmingham during the civil rights era and develop a mindset and belief system different from your own! How arrogant. Maybe it is the reality of the fact that an African American woman could be raised by decent, loving, and dedicated parents that you refer to as a Protective Bubble, during that most challenging era and still achieve the third highest position in American government without using the race issue as a platform to her success. I bet that upsets you most of all.
You accuse the parents of Condoleezza Rice for sheltering her against Jim Crow racism, and thus allowing their daughter to show no bitterness (Hate) when she recalls the warm memories of her childhood in a town whose streets were ruled by the white segregationist public safety commissioner Bull Conner. I noticed there was no praise in your column for the Rice parents for raising their daughter to love and not hate a person due to the color of their skin, but to judge someone by their character. There is also no mention of the fact that her parents taught her the value and importance of a good education. They were also most successful in this area of child development.
Condoleezza Rice was quoted of saying, " Ive always said about Birmingham that because race was everything, race was nothing." In other words she saw that racism could hold no power over her and keep her from achieving success, only she could do that. She chose to consider the race issue a non-issue for her life. Maybe Condoleezza Rice could teach all the rest of America, black and white her understanding. Maybe then racism and bigotry would end if we appreciate each other for who they are, not by what they look like.
You stated that when Condoleezza Rice reminisces, she talks of piano lessons and her brief attempt at ballet, not of Bull Conner setting his dogs loose on brave men, women and children marching for freedom, which is the Birmingham that other citizen's you met still remember. Is this what you ponder on when you reminisce of your childhood? Maybe Condoleezza had stronger memories of love, family, and personal interests that burned more deeply into her mind. You are suggesting that Condoleezza shares no part in the African American's Struggle for equal rights. This is an absurd assumption, an unfair at best.
You do grudgingly admit that that Condoleezza Rice lost her childhood friend to a white racist who planted a bomb in the little girls church, yet because she can speak of her loss without visible emotion to your approval, you doubt she suffers true emotional scars. You are quite a judge of other's personal grief and emotions.
You write that Condoleezza doesn't deny that race makes a difference. She stated, "We all look forward to the day when this Country is race blind, but it isn't yet!" I believe this statement is half wrong and half right. You do not wish this Country to be raceblind, you wouldn't have anything to write about in the press to keep hate and strife alive and well between the blacks and whites. The half right part of the statement is true, " It isn't yet!" (raceblind) because their are too many people with your world view who refuse to see anything but race in every issue. Condoleezza added, " The fact that our society is not colorblind is a statement of fact!" I agree, except that it must be mentioned that white and blacks are not colorblind in our society.
You wrote "but then why are the top echelons of her state department almost entirely white?" Only a question someone who is not colorblind could ask. Her answer, " That's an artifact of foreign policy, it's not been a very diverse profession. You translated that into, " in other words, there are aren't enough qualified minority candidates, you then added, " I wonder how many times those words have been used as a lame excuse"? Counting yours Mr. Robinson? It seems to me that if you believed that yourself you would encourage the type of raising you described earlier as a protective bubble. Maybe each parent in America should adopt this protective bubble theory for raising their children, then there would be more Condoleezza Rice's in the upper echelon positions. Great idea!
Again you knock Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for not reaching back to her home neighborhood to bring others to the same status. Just how many people from your hometown neighborhood did you reach back for that currently work with you at the Washington Post? I bet I could answer that for you!
You also mocked Condoleezza's interpretation of the history of civil rights being fought from inside the institutions, such as Martin Luther King demanding that institutions live up to what they said they were, challenging America to be what it said it was, the land of the free. You wrote, " I know very few black Americans who think of themselves fully as insiders in this society, no matter how high we may rise, [How inspiring!) there is always that reality that rice acknowledges: The society isn't colorblind, not yet its not always in the front of your mind, but its there. Well, no wonder when there are African Americans as yourself on the inside of American institutions such as the free press who constantly remind all Americans the color of their skin and offer an excuse for their failures in life.
Your last assault on Condoleezza Rice and her upbringing was, " When Rice was growing up, her father stood guard at the entrance of her neighborhood with a rifle to keep the Klan's night riders away. But that was outside the bubble, inside the bubble, Rice was sitting at the piano in pretty dresses to play Bauch Fugues. It sounds like a wonderful childhood, but one that left her able to see the impact that race has in America-able to examine it and analyze it-but not able to feel it. If there is a "rosebud" to decode the enigma that is Condoleezza Rice, It's Titusville." I believe I know Condoleezza rice better than you do Mr. Robinson.
It seems to me that you are green with envy that you were not raised in this same "rosebud" of a protective bubble. After all, Condoleezza Rice overcame, your still struggling obviously with the fact that a black woman on her own merit rose to the top, and has placed herself in position to realistically being elected the first black and the first woman ever to occupy the oval office as President of the United States of America. She will have my vote when the time comes! What an inspiration to all races and genders. May God Bless You Mr. Robinson and open your blind eyes to the fact that we are all Americans.
- Birmingham, Alabama, United States
- 43 Years old Born in Wilson, North Carolina. Work in Law Enforcement / Patrol, married I am a Political Conservative without a party to represent my vote. I dislike liars, especially the type who are politicians and preachers. I oppose abortion of any type at any stage. The baby is innocent and deserves life regardless of the mothers circumstances. I also dislike racists. Especially the kind that always scream racism at others when life doesn't go there way! Get a life, it's only skin color and God made idiots in all colors. I also dislike Democrats, they wouldn't know the truth if it bit them on the ass. I dislike Republicans, they are truly the most spineless creatures on God's green earth. I dislike arrogant environmentalist who think we can destroy what God created. If your homosexual, I don't dislike you, but please keep it in your own bedroom behind closed doors for the sake of the untwisted.