My man Max Reddick recently wrote a piece over at soulbrother v.2 centered on the recent leak of pictures of RNC Chairman Michael Steele goofing off with his interns. In his piece - which features the above picture - he asks the question: Do we act differently when we think white folks are watching? The piece in itself sought a definition of "coonery" by using Michael Steele as the case study. As for my take, I'll just say that I think the pejorative is often liberally misused by my melanin afflicted brothers and sisters.
In an attempt to distance ourselves from the likes of Michael Steele and others, many of us employ the very tactics once employed by the other man to further divides us as a people to their benefit. If any of you watched Glenn Beck's recent "Black Republican" episode, you can understand where I'm coming from. This is the reason I make a conscious effort to not be shackled mentally by using terms like "Uncle Tom", "Coon", and "Sell Out". If I ever have to go there based on the actions of one of our brothers and sisters, I prefer the term "Slave Catcher". In my book a slave catcher is just another negro misguided and used for profit, and this is how I view Michael Steele, and the people featured in the following video:
BTW: The sister who spoke on that panel - Robbin Martin - pens the blog Conservative Black Woman. Her and I have both conceded to the fact that we're diametrically opposed politically. But even so, we speak to each other with a mutual respect; anything otherwise isn't healthy in my opinion.
You see while we look at the picture above and conclude that Steele is up his usual antics. Some of us are quick identify his "coonish" behavior, and use this pic to validate or reinforce our perception of him. The way I see it, looking at the picture above, in my opinion, the white kid next to Steele is more damaging than Steele would ever be. If anything Steele is reinforcing a "Hip Hop Mike" stereotype in an attempt to reshape and find his footing among republican party leadership. And it is no secret that he has been under the scrutiny of said leadership since he took office. And why is he? Because, well, he's black.
Aww RiPPa how you gon' defend Michael Steele dawg?!!
I'm not defending him any more than I'm pointing out how at the end of the day he's still a negro in their eyes; and by default, he's governed by a different set of rules. Case in point, Steele has come under fire recently by members in his party who are criticizing him for charging upwards of $20,000 for speaking engagements as reported in The Washington Times recently. According to RNC leadership, Steele gets paid $223,500 annually as chairman of the RNC, and that's plenty enough and anything extra is, how do the young folks say... is pimping?
"Holy mackerel, I never heard of a chairman of either party ever taking money for speeches," said Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., RNC chairman under President Reagan and CEO of the American Gaming Association.Never-mind the fact that per the above linked article RNC General Counsel Reince Priebus said:
"The job of a national chairman is to give speeches. That's what the national party pays him for. We didn't have a rule book back then, but being national chairman was and is a full-time job," Mr. Fahrenkopf said.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, who served in that position from 1997 to 2000 and was President George W. Bush's Veterans Affairs secretary from 2005 to 2007, said the job "demands so much of your time that you can work 24/7 and not get everything done, so taking time out to speak for the benefit of one's own bank account is not appropriate." (SOURCE: The Washington Times)
He knew Mr. Steele has been making paid speeches around the country. "Michael Steele is not in violation of the rules of the Republican National Committee," said Mr. Priebus, who is also Wisconsin GOP chairman.But yet they're giving him hell for doing something that is not against the rules? I'm sorry, maybe I'm wrong, but if this was a certain pool in Philadelphia, I'd like to think that this was their way of attempting to kick him out. See Barack Obama, you're not the only descendant of African witch doctors the GOP isn't feeling right now. But going back to the subject of Steele's coonification (don't even look that up - it's not a word). I ain't mad at the brother for getting paid as much as he is to do what he does, but don't tell that to the GOP haters.
At a recent paid speaking engagement in Arkansas, "Money Mike" gave a shout-out to ACORN by saying he "respects" ACORN for its "history of working the community and helping the poor," as noted by CNN. Of course we all know how ACORN happens to be one of the beloved GOP talking points. That said, maybe they're not hatin' on Steele because he's a black man gettin' his hustle on. Instead, maybe they're hatin' on him because like Jay-Z said in his song D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune), he's T-Painin too much, and they would like to see him disappear?
Ultimately I think we toss around these pejoratives with ease due in large part to our internalized oppression. But given how we are to each other as black people across the political divide, can you imagine what they call him in their disgust? So no, at the end of the day you'll never hear me refer to Michael Steele or any other black republican as an "Uncle Tom", a "Coon", or a "Sellout". What you will hear me refer to them as are "Mis-Guided Negroes". But since black republicans pretty much all think alike when it comes to condemning the actions and behaviors of black people. It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on Michael Steele in light of these revelations.
Here's more from these Misguided Negroes:
(TO BE CONTINUED)