An endorsement indifferent to race, gender

Folks who have read me over the years know that I am somewhat turned off by Identity Politics — all that "MY race," "MY gender" stuff. That’s one reason why I like a guy like Barack Obama, whose appeal transcends skin color. I am even more pleased that his supporters get it, chanting "Race Doesn’t Matter" in the moment of his South Carolina triumph.

So it is that I am further pleased by the way author Toni Morrison has endorsed Barack Obama. A friend passed on to me this bit from an ABCNews story about the letter of support she sent:

Morrison writes of her admiration for Hillary Clinton but says she "cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration".

"Nor do I care very much for your race[s]," Morrison continues to
Obama, "I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or
because it might make me ‘proud.’ "

Even better is this passage quoted by The Associated Press:

"In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare
authenticity, you exhibit somethingObama_toni_morrison_2
that has nothing to do with age,
experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other
candidates," Morrison wrote. "That something is a creative imagination
which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we
associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing
vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle
for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while
ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it.

is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or
earn it in the workplace — that access can foster the acquisition of
knowledge, but not wisdom," Morrison wrote.

When I read that passage, "if we believe cunning is insight," it occurs to me that her respect for Hillary Clinton must have suffered a setback in recent days, which may have led to this endorsement.

Mind you, this is the writer who dubbed Bill Clinton the "first black president." For HER to embrace the idea of brushing race aside is particularly meaningful. Just as it was so powerful for a victory won with 80 percent of the black vote to be celebrated with "Race Doesn’t Matter."

Black folk are, generally speaking, more mindful that white folks of race — it’s a source of much of the tragic cognitive divide in our country. If Obama’s support had been mostly white, that chant would have meant less. As it was, it was a huge step forward for us all.

19 thoughts on “An endorsement indifferent to race, gender

  1. Lee Muller

    Hillary and Obama have made racist politics a major part of their campaigns, but sowing class hatred is also a part of the strategies of both of them.
    When they tell mobs of supporters who pay no income taxes they they deserve a “refund”, and that “the wealthy” have to pay more, they are playing the hate card.
    Since most of “the wealthy” are white middle-income, married, two-income families, the target of their hate campaign is whites, especially when the audiences are mostly blacks living in fear of losing their government dole.

  2. Phillip

    Lee, South Carolina has moved on. We invite you to join the rest of us in the 21st century. (Yes, you are allowed to skip directly from the 19th century.)

  3. Richard L. Wolfe

    Lee, Their is only one division in the whole wide world. The division between the haves and have nots. The haves got it one of three ways. They inherited it, they earned it or they stole it. The blacks of the past didn’t have much hope of obtaining it by any of the three methods. But, the times are a changing. Obama’s message of hope implies that if doesn’t say so outright.
    Getting rich or even well off is not easy. It requires hard work and sacrifice. Most of all the government cannot and should not do it for you. The best the government can do is guarantee equal and unfettered opportunity.
    Young Obama is trying to turn from division to inclusion which is good. But, the people are going to have to do the work not the government. Obama’s success will be his ablility to grasp this wisdom more than anything Ms Morrison says.

  4. Bill C.

    Why is Obama “black”, he’s 50% Black and 50% Caucasian. His BLACK father ran out on him as a child and he was raised by his WHITE mother. It’s Halle Berry all over again.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Folks, remember the question, “Is Obama black enough?” The answer is NO. He’s something else altogether.
    He grew up in Hawaii; the whole black-white thing is irrelevant there, and therefore had nothing to do with forming him. I graduated from high school in Hawaii. If you haven’t LIVED there (not just visited) you can’t imagine how alien it is even to contemplate race as the factor in history in has been in South Carolina.
    You have tension between Hawaiians and haoles, but it leaves no room for black vs. white. There, a guy with a white mother and a black father looks pretty much like just another guy.
    He also spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. I saw a class picture of him from there. He totally blends.
    It’s precisely someone like this who has the potential to lead us beyond race.

  6. Mike

    Toni Morrison needs some airtime, TV AND/OR Radio, to pronounce her endorsement of Barack. [Her face on TV] making this endorsement is extremely important or the endorsement will be minimized. Many, many people have no idea as to who is Toni Morrison OR that she is the person who coined that “first blk prez” phrase referring to Bill Clinton.
    This notion of “first black prez” promotes a perception about Bill (and Hillary) Clinton which is pure myth and fiction given the race-baiting politics Bill and Hillary initiated in the South Carolina Democratic primary.
    Some blacks and whites have laughed about this “first black prez” phrase; But, it is not funny. It is actually saddening. This phrase connotes a false image that has taken hold as reality in the minds of some people. That is destructive because it is misleading about a very serious issue of America ever having a first black president.
    In South Carolina on Saturday, Clinton received approximately 15% to 17% of black male votes and 19% of black females votes. 53% of all Saturday voters earn $30,000 or less. These are just some of the folks who are possibly among the most marginally educated–and among the folks most in need of being RE-EDUCATED on this first black prez thing!
    All of the above reasons suggest why Toni Morrison needs some airtime, TV AND/OR Radio, to pronounce her endorsement of Barack. People, black and white, need to see her black face and know that she was the person who started this whole thing that Bill Clinton is the “first black president.”

  7. Lee Muller

    Those who have wealth have it only one of 3 ways:
    * They created it by adding value of the application their knowledge and skill to physical goods.
    * They inherited wealth from those who created it and willingly gave it to them
    * They stole it by force, fraud or government programs.
    The “have-nots” have wealth only because:
    * Those with capital invested it in creating jobs and paid wages to these non-entrepreneurs.
    * They stole it by force, fraud or government programs.
    Obama and Hillary are haves who didn’t earn or inherit their wealth, and they pander to lower-grade voters who want a cut of the stolen pie.

  8. Karen McLeod

    Tell me Lee, how come it’s the white voters who have the best education who are most for Sen. Obama? And by the way, where do you get your “facts”–from Rush Limbaugh? or maybe from ‘Sheets for Clothes’ fashion magazine.

  9. Lee Muller

    Why would educated people with higher incomes vote for Obama or Hillary – only if they are overpaid goverment employees or lobbyists.
    If Obama has so many educated, well-to-do whites supporting him, why would Obama’s sales pitch be to promise the lower-income 50% of Americans (who pay no income tax) that he will tax the pants off the educated, higher-income people in order to provide more handouts?
    Answer: Obama’s target group is the 60% of voters who pay no income taxes (10% who don’t even file a tax return).
    The demographics of Obama voters are young whites (lower income, no real-world experience ) and lower-income working people and welfare free-loaders ( the usual Democrat base ).

  10. Rich Thurman

    Lee, you are a joke. Wealthy does not referto middle class, it refers to the top 1% of society who make up a majority of the income taxes paid, nearly 60 -70%. Those people should pay the higher taxes because they make billions off the backs of others and they should be held accountable for shipping jobs overseas and leaving Americans starving. You need to get your facts right as majority of my friends are white middle class and are voting for Obama. Get your facts right and realize Obama doesn’t come from the “Haves” as you say. Do your research. Also, who’s not paying taxes? Last time I checked poor people get taxed the same as you do at the store and it accounts for a larger percentage of their overal income. Last time I checked everyone got deductions to their paychecks.
    Finally, most of the money inherited was gained by ill means in the first place. Bootlegging, crime, slavery, etc. Slavery accounted for the major reason many families have such a long lineage of money. You’re telling me that all people are on equal footing when their families first opportunity to go to college was within the last 50 years, while others had the opportunity for centuries? Get serious

  11. Karen McLeod

    Lee, Where do you get that the lower 50% pay no taxes. If you are going to make these absurd claims, back them up, or be quiet, please. Thank you.

  12. Herb Brasher

    Well, I’m in Christian work, and belong to the lower 50% income-wise, and pay comparatively quite a bit in taxes, so I don’t know where Lee gets it, either.

  13. Steve Gordy

    What Lee means when he refers to “taxes” is the Federal income tax, plus the estate tax. Historically, these account for about 45% of all Federal tax revenues. What he forgets to mention is payroll taxes (to say nothing of state sales or excise taxes), which have lately been running at about 37% of all Federal tax revenues (with no breaks, because they rise every year). Anyone want to guess who pays most of the payroll taxes?

  14. Lee Muller

    According to the IRS, the only the upper half of taxpayers pay all the income taxes. The lower 49% get refunds and tax credits equal to or greater than their witholding. In addition, another 10% don’t even file, because they make so little.
    It is all on at
    It is tabulated by year at this site and others:

  15. Lee Muller

    Mr. Gordy, I agree that workers are being cheated by payroll taxes. The 15.3% they actually pay ( don’t forget that the employer pays nothing; he just reduces their gross wages by his “contribution” ) is enough to give even the lowest-paid workers a decent retirement. Most skilled workers would be millionaires at age 60, if they were able to invest the money for themselves.
    If we don’t privatize Social Security and abolish corporate pensions and government pensions, there will be a serious collapse of the markets when they go broke in just a few years. The money is not there. It was looted and spent.

  16. Lee Muller

    Lower-income workers pay no FICA taxes, either.
    The Earned Income Tax Credit, which was put in place by President Nixon, gives a rebate to lower-income households to offset the oppressive Social Security and Medicare taxes.
    It is those earning more than $50,000 who pay the full 15.3% FICA taxes. After a certain high income, which increases every year, you no longer have to pay FICA, which makes sense, because it it becomes so far out of proportion to any Social Security welfare check you can expect to ever get back, assuming the entire system is not bankrupt soon (which it will be ).

  17. Steve Gordy

    For those interested: My data sources on taxation are: U.S. Office of Management & Budget, “Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1997” Historical Table 2.3 (Years 1934-1995) and Bureau of Labor Statistics ( (Years 1996-2004). For 2004, the percentage of government revenue deriving from Personal Income Taxes was 41.5%; the percentage of government revenue deriving from Payroll Taxes was 41.5%.

  18. Lee Muller

    And your figures don’t contradict anything I posted. So, do you favor making the tax system for fair by having one rate for everyone? If you don’t like Equal Protection Under the Law, why not?

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