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Wilentz, Race, And Violins

A TNR reader writes in pointing out this response to Sean Wilentz. Concluding remarks, from "I'm All Out of Violins": 

The piece is essentially a self-pitying meditation on the fact that black people won't react to being disrespected by supporting a candidate who disrespects them just because they're a Democrat. It removes all agency from black voters, who are able to see for themselves what is and is not racist without help from the f***ing New York Times, and certainly without help from white people. Ultimately, Wilentz is just the latest white liberal to regret the fact that black people won't just shut up and vote for who we're told to vote for.

More than anything else, it ignores the anger and feelings of betrayal black folks felt in the wake of the Clinton campaigns repeated efforts to inject race into the campaign. Few of us were actually expecting them to do the things they did, and we were shocked when they were. On some level I'm willing to concede that Obama used the Clinton missteps to his advantage, but they put themselves in the air, he just kicked away the chair.

Anyway, Wilentz, we're just a bunch of ungrateful Negroes. Don't we understand all that the Clintons have done for us?

. Yes. And Yes.

Not only does the whole post seem (to me) a thorough takedown of Wilentz's logic (what happened to Bob Johnson?), it also represents a key (and, lord help us, perenially bypassed) component of the discourse on race in this election. Despite being often treated as the opposite, the visible, coherent and astute black blogosphere--not to talk of black radio and good old word of mouth--may have been fully responsible for driving the racialized furor during Black-uary (aka the leadup to the South Carolina vote). That is, not necessarily Obama and his campaign, nor the reactive white media, but, you know, black people.

--Dayo Olopade