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Burris Played the Race Card and Lost

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I have tried not commenting on Senator Burris going to Washington. But I could not help myself after several days of reviewing what he said he did not say. His original press conference announcing his appointment was riddled with age old racial antics with his paid cheerleaders shouting “lynching” from the pulpit, I mean podium. The circus atmosphere that surrounded Burris’ appointment and his non-stop media appearances claiming no part in the “pay-to-play” Chicago politics, left many wondering what to do with the mild mannered politician.

My concern was not about him at the time but what was being said to get him to Washington. The cry of racism and many southern terms that usually stop folks dead in their tracks because no one wants to be accused of being a racist (publicly) seemed to be the main focus instead of his views of the issues that we are facing as a country. Job losses and unemployment, Wall Street and the bailout, the economy, and the forgotten war were not topics surrounding Burris’ appointment. The lynching cries were being thrown around as casually as a Clarence Thomas book review. The Congressional Black Caucus piled on their agenda and the question of what kind of Senator Mr. Burris would make for the state of Illinois was lost in chorus of racial inequality and unfairness to seat him because he was black. The argument by many in the CBC that there are no Black Senators was not a credible means to seat Mr. Burris. The race card was played by all and Mr. Burris went to Washington without a real examination of what he stood for in regards to some of the most pressing issues our nation has ever faced. “Give us a Black Senator,” even if under a cloud of legal confusion and political ramblings, was the cry that was heard and followed. He was appointed case close. (Or so we thought.)

This knee jerk reaction that we must have someone black no matter the circumstances leaves blacks folks often looking crazier than the person they are trying to make into an instant hero. This only contributes to the racial divide that we have in our country in spite of Obama’s election to the highest office in the land. It leaves less room for dialogue with the soon to be minority majority. Preachers who are quick to hold vigils for the ousted Governor and questionable politicians only fan the flames. I am always amazed at Bible folks who gather to pray over public figures gone wild or stupid, than gathering to teach and encourage young people to go to school and get an education. Vigils for black on black crime and supporting educators would be a better use of that precious commodity called time, I would think. Oh wait, the cameras do not show up for these types of events. Nevermind, keep reading.

When younger minds use their voices to speak up and out, our dissent is met with an even louder cry of “ignorance” or ignored all together. What is now becoming more evident, that this tactic is more generational than substance. In the blogger sphere, the Gen Xs and Gen Ys blogged often that something was not quite right with Burris’ appointment but no one knew what. There was a wait-and-see attitude. There was nothing wrong with Burris speaking with Governor Blagojevich about the vacant Senate seat. There was nothing illegal about campaigning for him either. This is done all the time. It became illegal when the conversations by the governor were recorded on tape by the FBI with a price tagged attached to the seat cushion. Ouch. What role Burris played will be determined once his story congeals. Daddy would say often, “Playing with a dog with fleas, you usually walk away with fleas.” Senator Burris later summed up his talks as equivalent to petting a puppy. He failed to mention that the puppy was in the cage with his flea ridden mother. And that he has bought a few bags of dog food for the litter. “Minor” details that get lost when we have a chorus yelling behind you.

As my rant comes to a close, I urge color folks to use our collective resources frugally. There are many, many issues that need our attention surrounding the area of race and race relations. We need to quit wasting time on issues that do not contribute to closing the ever-widening racial gap. Knee jerk reactions need to be kept to a minimal or least get all the facts. Get preaching folks to become nurturers and teachers of the young and leave the fleas and dog poop to those who decide to play with the dogs in the first place.

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