Nina Burleigh: When Will Obama Apologize for O.J.?

Wow. We have no words right now.

From a column over on HuffPo:

The kids recently pulled my junior high school yearbooks off the book shelf. Ellis Junior High, 1974, was the kind of mixed-race, mixed-class public school I don’t think exists anymore. Hard by the crumble-down projects in Elgin, Illinois, it served black and Latino kids on welfare, and lower middle class white kids like me, but was close enough to country club suburbia to draw students who fox-hunted and would soon head off to East Coast prep schools. The black guys came to school with picks in their huge Afros, and joints in their pockets, and we danced with them to Bootsy’s Rubber Band, in parentless, pot-scented, subsidized living rooms.

We never imagined that in our lifetime, we would someday be competing for the spoils of dying-Empire America.

Looking at those yearbooks, I realized I have no idea what happened to any of those young black men. Did they get lucky, draw the affirmative action straw and get into private colleges and law school, get promoted up the EEOC ranks of a multi-national? Or, are they delivering mail, pounding nails, in jail?
Whenever I start to think about the competing victimhood claims between blacks and women, I think about those guys. The fact is, for all the “glass ceiling” and sexual harassment crap I endured, those guys started off a long ways behind where I was…

That said, it would be nice to see some glimmer of feminism coming out of our presumptive black male candidate. I’d like to know what he thinks of OJ Simpson, for example. Would he, law professor, stand up in front of a black crowd and admit that he thinks OJ got away with murdering a white woman – unlike the countless black males who actually didn’t murder the white woman, but were hanged anyway? In all cases, remember, the woman was actually dead.

More importantly, will Obama repudiate the misogynistic undertone in rap music, the tidal wave of bitch and ho vulgarity that does nothing to move young black (and white) women an inch closer to parity with men?

Calling female reporters “sweetie” is not – ahem – a step in the right direction.

Every day in America a woman gets the crap beat out of her by a boyfriend, every other day, in New York anyway, a man kills his wife or girlfriend. That’s feminism 101, friends, it’s where we really are on a planet where whole nations can still deny women the right to drive, use birth control or go to school, and force them to wear black blankets over their heads.

All we can do is hope this new kind of man leader cares enough to speak about it.

What does one even say to that? Tami somehow managed to muster a pretty thoughtful response to this dreck.

Does Nina Burleigh realize how ridiculously race biased it is to ask a candidate to weigh in on O.J. Simpson and decry hip hop simply because he is a black man.

Will Hillary Clinton be taking a stand against Susan Smith, the white woman who murdered her children a year after the Simpson-Goldman murders and blamed their disappearance on a mysterious black man? Should she be expected to? The idea is ludicrous and so is any notion that black people always need to answer for the behavior of people who share their skin color.

I don’t need Barack Obama to be the second coming of Andrea Dworkin or a Black Panther. As a black person and a woman, I need to know that, as president, he will move this country closer to equality for all people. That means helping to close the wage gap between women and men, and white women and women of color. It means ensuring committed gay couples have the same rights as committed heterosexual ones. It means ensuring that kids in poor inner-city and rural areas are guaranteed a good education just like rich kids in the suburbs. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I am the only person on earth to face inequality, and I am not entitled enough to think that a president’s work need be all about me. I wish some of my fellow American citizens felt the same way.



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • Tasha

    …just wow

  • “Like many women, I feel the visceral draw to vote for a female.”

    I wish writers would go ahead and start putting ‘white’ in front of ‘women.’ That way, I wouldn’t feel the urge to get my Sojourner Truth on.

    I’m not going to touch the false racist/sexist parallels she draws, but I will say, the man who marries Michelle Robinson (strong black woman extraordinaire) is a man who respects women.

    (Bonus: wasn’t he raised by a white feminist? Shouldn’t that make him, like, their messiah?)

  • ndenise

    I think Tami’s response was spot on.
    Nina’s piece is disturbing because of the assumptions she makes:
    1. That Barack Obama or any Black person is the de facto mouthpiece of a homogeneous group of African Americans. Sike.
    2. That these Black men she grew up with need affirmative action and the aid of the EEOC else they end up in jail.

    I count myself as a feminist but I do not share the opinion of this woman. I feel she’s using feminism as a cloak to cover up the racism she would likely deny existed.

  • I’m going to shirk eloquence in favor of relaying the following (in case you couldn’t have deduced yourself):
    This woman is crazy.

    Her philosophy is so all over the place.
    …but I’m sure she has “black friends” to counter differing arguments.

    She stopped just short of accidentally blurting out some mandingo fantasy and cleaning it up by rationalizing her feelings as the fault of all the soul brothers she went to school with who are now likely incarcerated, for using their evil negroe powers against her.

    I really don’t know what to think,
    but I weep for the children and her sympathizers.

  • Is it wrong for me to just start finding this kind of stupid shit funny?

  • @ BPhd


    Great comeback! (smiles)

    The level of ignorance that has been revealed by some white people during this campaign has been shocked, baffling, perplexing and sometimes…. vomit-worthy….


    Continue to blow the trumpet on this foolishness! Somebody has to.

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

  • Anonymous

    Actually there are two choices one faces when encountered with such an argument. An emotional one(obviously the wrong choice) to get influenced and start to believe that black men are in a position to perpetuate and most importantly sustain a sexist campaign against a white woman in America. The other one , the rational option is to look at it as an single unrelated incident which could very well happen to anybody of any race and need not be necessarily tied to a racial context. As a person who feels the importance of reason in understanding anything objectively cannot be stressed enough, I think emotional arguments must be discarded in favor of the more reasonable ones. Any appeal to emotion should be view with suspicion too, if one is concerned with an unbiased and clear perspective.