Republican Congressional Candidate Corey Poitier, who is running for Kendrick Meek's seat in Florida, is working hard for some angry white votes:
From WPLG in Miami: "Corey Poitier, who is running for U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's seat, delivered a passionate speech against the health care reform bill Monday night to Broward County Republicans. During the speech, Poitier addressed the President by saying 'Listen up, Buckwheat…'
"I wasn't meaning him any harm. Maybe it was a little insensitive," Poitier said. "It's a term that my brother and I use. It was kind of a way of saying, 'dummy,' like when I say to my brother, 'Hey, Buckwheat, cut that out.' That's what it was."
Look, this explanation wouldn't be plausible if it were a white person saying it, and it's laughable with a black person saying it. Poitier is offering to act as an alibi for his audience's racial hostility toward Obama by putting the president in his place with the use of an old-school racial slur. It's a testament to the ongoing power of conservative white guilt that some Republicans feel uncomfortable expressing racial hostility directly but are perfectly comfortable allowing a black person to do so on their behalf, because they think that protects them from a charge of racism.
But the phenomenon itself undermines the illusion. Regardless of the actual individual opinions of the Broward County Republicans, it's clear that Poitier thought he could win some points with them by referring to Obama as "Buckwheat." That not only says something about what Poitier thinks of the people whose support he's after, it says something about the Republican Party in general that their black candidates see a path to power in expressing right-wing racial animus.
As for Poitier, this hustle is as old as Booker T. Washington telling white folks "niggahs" didn't have enough sense not to steal chickens. Except circumstances being what they were back in the day, it was hard to knock Washington's hustle, especially since Washington had a bigger goal in mind. Poitier just wants a seat in Congress.
-- A. Serwer