Many have chosen to look at the “Senator Harry Reid controversy” as a window to where the American consciousness really is as it pertains to race. Others, like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, seem fixated on the appearance that Democrats get a “pass” when it comes to racial insensitivity, whereas it can be a career-ender for Republicans (see Trent Lott).
The controversy started when the newly released book Game Change, written by two Washington reporters, published remarks that Senator Harry Reid of Nevada made during the 2008 presidential campaign:
“He (Reid) was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately,” according to the book.
–The Huffington Post via Game Change
The reality is that Senator Harry Reid is a man who has been alive for a very long time and has seen a great deal. He witnessed Brown V Board of Education, he lived in a segregated world, and he even was around before the internet and cell phones (what a specimen!). It’s now 2010 and we have a black president, and there is a level of diversity in America that is so radically different than the 1950s (however, we are certainly far from perfect). We even carry small computers with us everywhere we go.
It may seem like this is in defense of Senator Reid. It is not. It is quite the opposite. We must realize that in America, we do not all speak the same language. Senator Reid is from a different time, and his comments imply to me that he cannot get past his personal bewilderment that a Black candidate can go as far as he did. Moreover, He really showed his age by including the word “negro.” Senator Reid contrasts quite vividly with a first time, 18 year old voter in Nevada that may have voted for President Obama.
However, perhaps the bigger picture here is how TMZ has greatly influenced our political reporters enough to write a book like Game Change.