Thursday, August 10, 2006

Black On Black

One would assume that after 230 years of being a country, the color of a candidate would no longer be an issue. Well, it appears that in the Maryland Senate race, their making it one. Republican candidate Michael Steele made a comment that was described by Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman as “race baiting as a way to divide the voters of Maryland” when Steele asked a national news magazine who would serve them better, “(someone) who represents all the people, or just one particular race?” This comment was taken by Maryland Democrats to mean that Democratic candidate Kweisi Mfume would represent only black voters, seeing as how Mfume, a former member of Congress, is the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Steele’s campaign spokeswoman Melissa Sellers gave an explanation by saying Steele “is running to represent Marylanders of every race, economic status, and from every region of the state.” This is where one would normally cry foul, as the comment above could be construed as racist. There’s just one problem to that theory; both candidates are black. If Steele is to win the Republican nomination, and Mfume the Democratic, it would pose a race between two black candidates. If we look at it in terms of black and white (and its hard not to in this case) Steele claims he will serve everyone while Mfume would serve only the black community.
Now I admit that the prospect of both candidates being black may not seem too exciting at first, but look at the history behind this; there have only been 5 Senators of African descent. 5, total, in the history of the US Senate. As of today, there is only 1 currently serving on the Senate (Barack Obama, Democrat, Illinois). If Steele wins the Republican nomination, and Mfume the Democratic, there is a good chance one of them will become the sixth Senator of African-American descent. If there was ever a time to say you have lived to see history in the making, this would be it.

What separates this race from the other states’ is that we have two candidates of the same race, and they still found a way to make race an issue. I never agreed to the idea that politicians should campaign race-by-race, making promises to help one race more than the other, and vice versa. I believe that voters pick a candidate whose convictions and ideas match theirs, whatever they may be. If a candidate came to my town and told all the white people he would do “wondrous” things for them, I wouldn’t be asking myself how he is going to help me as a white male. I would be asking what he is going to do for the others who aren’t white. In this case, I think that Lierman was correct in calling this “race baiting”. Preach to the crowds as people, not colors.

  You’d rather die than take a stab at living, nothing would kill you so you do it yourself

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