Obama lets the dogs out.

Barack hangin' out with the homegirls of "The View" crew.

Is it beneath the dignity of the President of the United States to appear on a morning talk show like The View?   Not really.  Most of us have grown comfortable with politicians putting themselves into potentially embarrassing situations.   It’s not as if a lightweight like Elizabeth Hasselbeck or a giggle box like Sherri Sheppard are going to put Barack Obama on the spot when Hillary Clinton and John McCain couldn’t. 

However, every word a president utters is recorded for posterity which means even the well-spoken and lucid Obama can lurch into a momentary lapse of articulation so bumbling it makes Alvin Greene sound like James Earl Jones. 

Obama’s lapse came in the process of making a cogent, but ultimately clumsy observation of how impurities coarse through the bloodlines of the genealogy of the American public in general and African-Americans in particular.  

NEW YORK — President Obama waded into the national race debate in an unlikely setting and with an unusual choice of words: telling daytime talk show hosts that African-Americans are “sort of a mongrel people.” 

The president appeared on ABC’s morning talk show “The View” Thursday, where he talked about the forced resignation of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, his experience with race and his roots. 

When asked about his background, which includes a black father and white mother, Obama said of African-Americans: “We are sort of a mongrel people.” 

“I mean we’re all kinds of mixed up,” Obama said. “That’s actually true of white people as well, but we just know more about it.” 

The president’s remarks were directed at the roots of all Americans. The definition of mongrel as an adjective is defined as “of mixed breed, nature, or origin,” according to dictionary.com. 

Obama did not appear to be making an inflammatory remark with his statement and the audience appeared to receive it in the light-hearted manner that often accompanies interviews on morning talk shows

Mixed up, Mr. President?  I can’t argue with you there

When the President of the United States refers to African-Americans as a “mongrel “people it strikes a raw nerve of a racially dubious term.   It  would have sounded no better if Bush or Clinton had said it.  It just grates a little bit more coming from a biracial President whom self-identifies as Black.” 

"Bo, you understand what I was trying to say, don't cha?"

Now I know the O-man didn’t mean it a racially insensitive way, but if ANY White politician had said the exact same thing, the NAACP, Jesse, Al, and everyone in the mainstream media would be on their butt like a bad rash and that is the absolute truth. 

That was NOT cool by the O-man.  He’s way too smart and far too articulate to say such a dumb thing.  We can’t hold White conservatives to one standard and suddenly go deaf, dumb and blind says something this stupid.   Maybe Obama has been hanging out with Joe Biden too much because this kind of brain fart is his stock and trade.  

Obama needs to apologize.  You don’t have to be a Rush Limbaugh Ditto head or a Fox News freak to know giving the president a complete pass on this the suspicion there’s a double standard for liberals and conservatives really begins to stick.  What would be the reaction of Black folks if Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin had said the exact same thing? Or if a member of the Tea Party showed up at a rally with those remarks written on a sign? 

Is there a nice way to call someone a mongrel? 

I’m wary of saying “these words over here are bad and must stay in the corner” but “these words over there are good and we can all play with them.” Kind of the way White kids who love rap ga” then want to know why can’t THEY say all the cool words. Call a woman a “bitch” ten years ago and it’s going to be an all-day fight. Call her that now and she might consider it a compliment. where everyone is called “nigga” then want to know why THEY can’t say all the cool bad words too?  Call a woman a “bitch” ten years ago and you better get ready for an all-day fight.  Now some women consider it a compliment. 

Words change over time.  A word in the time-out corner today might be the next cool pop culture reference tomorrow. 

When Obama uttered that word it sounded strangely familiar. Going to You Tube, I found the reason why and if you fast-forward the video to just shy of the five-minute mark you too can share in the rapture of enlightenment. 

We are a nation of mutts, not thoroughbreds. There are precious few blue bloods among us whose bloodline can be described in any way as “pure” and that probably doesn’t bug most folks. 

But double standards do bug me because I’ve called out enough people for their relaxed standards and obvious hypocrisy. I know quite well if a Palin, Limbaugh, O’Reilly or anyone on the Right side of the political spectrum had said African-Americans are a mongrel people, they’d be marinated, roasted and served up as an example of the worst kind of racial insensitivity. 

The President’s intentions were clear.  It’s his phrasing that was muddled and in a highly charged and volatile time where racial discussions are already difficult the language we use must be both cautious and precise. 

Attorney General Eric Holder caught flak when he proclaimed America had become “a nation of cowards” in discussions of race.   Perhaps the next time he’s at the White House Holder should have a little chat with the boss on how that grand debate can be easily derailed when the wrong word betrays the right sentiments. 

One thought on “Obama lets the dogs out.

  1. I heard Obama’s remark when he originally said it. I didn’t take offense that he used the word mongrel to describe himself, black people AND white people. One of the definitions of mongrel is “any cross between different things”. There are very few of us who are only one thing. America is a mongrel country – we’re a mixture of the best and the worst from around the world. After decades of living together there is very little that anyone can point to that is purely one thing or another – be it culture, religion, attitude or belief systems. We’ve been exposed to a variety of things and choose to identify ourselves as things we believe are the most important to our defining ourselves.

    I’m a divorced black human male, over 50, educated, opinionated, near sighted, balding, over-weight and a heck of a lot more. I can choose to limit myself or expand that identity any way I see fit. You’re different from me and I’m different from the next person. We’re all unique and yet we’re all the same in many ways. We’re all mortal, live on the planet Earth and are part of the fabric of mankind.

    I’m not part of a one-mind herd and believe that being a mongrel makes me stronger than if I was purebred. My differences enable me to survive, adapt and/or thrive in situations where I might not be able to call upon the variety of experiences, influences and resources that I call my own.


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