Who else is counting down the days until the presidential election is over?
Every week there is some new attack on Blackness or Black womanhood that makes us all immediately incensed at the blatant racism still running rampant throughout our governments, corporations and especially in the media.
In her latest column for The Washington Post titled “A Good Debate and It’s Not Quite Over,” author Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, wrote a scathing paragraph dedicated to Sen. Kamala Harris. Noonan was triggered by Harris’ choice to dance in the rain to her Mary J. Blige campaign song, “Work That” during a campaign stop in Florida last week.
The article was supposed to be centered on Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s debate performance and all the speculation around who will win the presidency. Noonan assigns very interesting adjectives to Trump throughout the piece, “controlled,” and “smart,” but then towards the end, used two paragraphs to bring up Harris and even Barack Obama, without any mention of Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence.
So we know what’s happening here.
“For her part, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is, when on the trail, giddy. She’s dancing with drum lines and beginning rallies with “Wassup, Florida!” She’s throwing her head back and laughing a loud laugh, especially when nobody said anything funny. She’s the younger candidate going for the younger vote, and she’s going for a Happy Warrior vibe, but she’s coming across as insubstantial, frivolous. When she started to dance in the rain onstage, in Jacksonville, Fla., to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” it was embarrassing,” she wrote.
If “the racism jumped out” needed to be described we could point to the above paragraph. The coded language, the mentioning of Harris dancing with drumlines, the reference to her saying “Wassup” and labeling her as “insubstantial, frivolous,” was it for me. There seems to be something that sizzled in Noonan’s spirit that made her upset to see a Black woman expressing joy in a way that was not subdued and “respectable.”
Also assigning childlike qualities to Harris, like “giddy,” and equating her dancing as a desperate grab to appeal to young voters, didn’t have the same pressure applied when it came to Trump and just about every politician in history who has danced in a crowd or wore the latest fashions.
Of course Noonan got clocked on social media because it was just too obvious what was happening.
Again Kamala Harris is running for office, so she is subjugated to being critiqued. That is part of the process here. However, we know that for many who subscribe to whiteness, there are ways in which language is used to weaponize, clouded under what they believe to be “decent” and “wholesome.” Noonan is a Pulitzer Prize winner and this is the best she could do in adding commentary about one of the most important elections in the last 20 years.
Noonan’s commentary is actually “insubstantial, frivolous,” and lazy. Harris is a graduate of Howard University, a historically Black college. She just might like the sound of a marching band and a Mary J. Blige song. Being that the two are only six years apart, Harris may have been finding her way through the world using Blige’s songs as her backdrop.
But white people are never expected to look into the meaning behind some of our cultural elements.
Donald Trump is out here ending Democracy in America as we know it, lying to his constituents, and mishandling a pandemic and an economic recession, and instead of speaking truth to power, the media is worried about a two-step and a hip hop beat.
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