My old-ass granddaddy (may he RIP) grew up in the country in central Virginia and went to a one-room schoolhouse. He was a highly intelligent man and ultimately a clever small businessman. However, he had no more than a 5th grade education from that schoolhouse and told me once quietly how he felt after watching his white schoolteacher refuse to touch the doorknob of their little classroom, instead always using his shirtsleeve or a handkerchief.

I’m reminded of this in reading this story and watching this video from ThinkProgress:

After the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January, President Obama asked former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead the U.S. relief effort in that country. The two men viewed one of Haiti’s “massive tent cities” yesterday, in a trip — their first one to the country together — to “remind donors of the immense needs facing the recovery effort.” BBC aired video of Bush and Clinton’s visit, and Mediate noticed that at one point, Bush appeared to wipe his hand off on Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with a crowd of Haitians. […]

Bush has a well-known aversion to germs — and a tendency to use other people’s clothing to clean himself off. He infamously used a woman’s shirt to wipe off his glasses and reportedly had an aide give him “a big dollop of hand sanitizer” after shaking hands with Barack Obama.

I actually don’t think Bush is consciously racist — no one who could appoint folks like Powell, Rice and Gonzales among others to his cabinet and staff could be. Bush also, to his credit, was pioneering in his efforts to bring increased aid to Africa. I will give him that little bit in the wake of one of the worst presidencies we’ve ever endured as a nation. However, this speaks to the deeply embedded bigotry — unconscious — that we must all work to fight against if we hope for a truly post-racist world. It continues to surprise me that Bill Clinton even gives Bush Jr. the time of day, let alone doing public events with the man.

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