I’ve been following the reports on Geraldine Ferraro closely including this dead-on commentary from Kos. Being a black woman, I feel I have a perspective that I’d love to share with Geraldine. I’ve gotten few breaks BECAUSE of my race or gender. Instead, I have often received opportunities DESPITE my race (in particular) or gender. Certainly I’ve lost more opportunities because of my race. Most middle class black people can tell you about the time (or 2 or 3) when they walked into an interview and the climate in the room changed, with the prospective employer visibly shocked that you are the candidate whose resume they were just considering. Those experiences are really awkward, yo, because everyone goes through the motions knowing the “nigger” ain’t going to get hired. I’ve been grateful to the people who gave me a chance to show my stuff even when in some cases I could see that they really felt they were holding their breath and taking a chance.

Doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced sexism as well. It varies depending on one’s line of work or industry. Still, the fact is that Barack Obama has won people over and created a movement not because of his race but despite it. People listen to his words, experience his vision and presence and vote for him despite what he looks like. Not because of it. They overcome their fears and suspicion to focus on the man, not the race. That’s what has allowed him to transcend the “black candidate” box that Clinton surrogates keep trying to put him in.

I’m not ignoring the challenges that Hillary Clinton faces and all women in America can be proud of her achievements. Yet I found Ferraro’s comments and defense of them deeply offensive. Why? Because she has discounted the many challenges that Barack Obama and any U.S. black person has to face on a regular basis. Do you have any idea how much self-confidence it takes to walk into a room alone and talk to a group of people who look different from you and represent a different culture, including a few who aren’t entirely sure you’re fully human and not some kind of giant talking monkey. I know a whole lot of African-Americans who can tell you just what that feels like. I find Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s comments also deeply offensive and would like to have him fitted for a platinum handkerchief. The brother is wrong. And I recommend you check out dnA’s recent post on Hutchinson and his, uh, qualifications for more on that.

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