There's an old, or maybe not so old statement that says "You should never miss a great opportunity to shut the hell up." That statement comes to mind every time I hear Bob Johnson speak, the latest being his CNN appearance this weekend.
Now for those who don't know, Mr. Johnson made his fortune as the founder of BET, a network who's prime programming function seems to be the display of Black women's rear ends from as many different angles as possible. Mr. Johnson parlayed that "success" into ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats professional basketball franchise, who's play on the hardwood is as terrible as the majority of his BET programming.
These experiences have apparently lent Mr. Johnson an air of political authority, because every few weeks, someone trots him out to tell us Black folks we shouldn't be supporting Barack Obama for some reason or another, mainly because he's Black. Or we're Black. Or something. The latest includes Mr. Johnson, in his infinite wisdom, telling us that us that Geraldine Ferraro was actually right last month in her now infamous statements.
"What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called 'Jerry Smith' and he says I'm going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?" Johnson said. "And the answer is, probably not."
"Geraldine Ferraro said it right," Johnson added. "The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything."
Where to start? Well, how about the fact that Obama didn't start out with anywhere near 90% of the Black votes. In fact, I'm willing to bet it was closer to 90% for Hillary Clinton. It took a while before we bought into the fact that his was a viable candidacy. And it still wasn't until the Clinton campaign started playing the race card fast hard and heavy (with Bob Johnson's help), that many Blacks began to view the campaign as both viable politically AND an opportunity to advance the social agenda in this country. In other words, Hillary Clinton basically lost the Black vote over the course of this campaign due to her own strategic blunders, not simply because Obama is Black.
What an insult. And the truth is that if Obama were a White man, even a freshman Senator, this race would most likely have been over a long time ago. But we don't want to talk about that do we Bob?
I'm in an advice giving mode so here's a little bit for Mr. Johnson and whoever it is that thinks he's an authority who's opinion Black Americans listen too, much less follow.
1. Blacks might take you a little more seriously if you didn't constantly refer to us as "they" instead of "we." Heck, Whites might too. I mean, you are Black, aren't you?
2. Maybe you should try talking about other issues every now and again, like maybe education, or the economy, or something. The only thing that seems to move you is Black folks preferring Obama over the alternatives of Clinton or McCain. It kind of kills your credibility.
3. You might carry a little more weight among Democratic and Independent voters if you were recognized as even a little bit progressive. But you're not. Again, that credibility thing.
4. Why are you so obsessed with the Black vote alone? What about Whites who support McCain? Or Obama? Or women who support Clinton? Or Hispanics, Asians, or anybody else supporting anybody?
So that's that, and I hope Mr. Johnson now realizes that the vast majority of us have made an informed political calculation of one type or another that has led us to supporting Sen. Obama. The fact that he's Black is just a nice bonus.